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Two drunk ladies : the modernist drunk narrative and the female alcoholic in the fiction of Jean Rhys and Jane Bowles

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Title: Two drunk ladies : the modernist drunk narrative and the female alcoholic in the fiction of Jean Rhys and Jane Bowles
Author: Grizenko, Marisa Katherine
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program English
Copyright Date: 2012
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-11-14
Abstract: This thesis takes as its starting point the culturally potent figure of the alcoholic modernist, who, heroically facing existential despair, is predominantly gendered as male. Pointing to the absence of the female alcoholic as writer and subject in critical accounts of modernism, I argue that a drunk narrative, written by and about women, exists alongside the prototypical male narrative, and call for a re-examination of the modernist writer‘s relationship to alcohol. Exploring the historical and cultural contexts that have contributed to the gendering of alcoholism and drinking practices in general, as well as the gendering of the modernist artist in particular, I then consider how writers Jean Rhys and Jane Bowles articulate their vision of the drinking woman. Rhys‘s 1939 novel Good Morning, Midnight sees protagonist Sasha Jansen employing the discursive category of female drunk as a tool of resistance in Paris‘ patriarchal and capitalist urban economy. I situate her as tactically capitalizing, in a de Certeauan fashion, on her abjection and visibility. Bowles‘s 1943 novel Two Serious Ladies extends Sasha‘s individual drunkenness to an overarching, abstracted drunkenness that reflects the worldview of the text. I trace how drunkenness functions thematically and linguistically in the two female protagonists‘ existential quests. While identifying existing gaps in the scholarship, I also hope to gesture to rich areas of potential research and model a reading practice that explores female interventions in the male modernist drunk narrative.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/43579
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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