Friday, February 11, 2011
This morning I am trying not to be too obsessive so am merely reading through my vast archive of notebooks, and thinking of clothing, women's clothing in literature. For a while there was this idea that one could tell a woman writer by how she wrote female characters in terms of their longings for material possessions, their descriptions of clothes. I recently read an essay by Angela Carter where she takes down DH Lawrence in Women in Love for his excessive portrayal of stockings worn by Gudrun and Ursula, that she finds a sort of grotesque femininity to this that is overdone and unrealistic, based on their being middle class and all, although Gudrun is based on Katherine Mansfield and she was known for her delight in colored stockings (right? am I remembering incorrectly?), and this carries through to her descriptions of dresses and stockings and things in her stories (I am in the midst of trying to read very good Katherine Mansfield stories, I only have one collection, any suggestions?) I have to reread Women in Love, which I've read many times, to get at what she's saying. This notion that DH Lawrence is putting on women, is carciaturing them...that is what Angela Carter argues. Although Women in Love was one of the first novels I really fell in love with, and for a while I really thought of DH Lawrence as a writer very in tune with the feminine...amidst charges of misogyny. I wonder how deeply I need to get into this. I know Anais Nin adored him, and wrote a study on him, after which Henry Miller went and wrote a study on him. And the early Anna Kavan novels (written under Helen Ferguson) were very inspired by Lawrence.
What I am trying to remember this morning, is that I remember reading somewhere, that when the identity of Story of O was unknown, some theorized that the author was a woman by a description within the text. I think I remember the description being that O looks at her lovers' slippers and realizes that he needed new slippers, and that was somehow a very feminine detail. Does anyone remember?