Using private diary writing as her model, Catherine Delafield investigates the cultural significance of nineteenth-century women's writing and reading practices. Beginning with an examination of non-fictional diaries and the practice of diary-writing, she assesses the interaction between the fictional diary and other forms of literary production such as epistolary narrative, the periodical, the factual document and sensation fiction. The discrepancies between the private diary and its use as a narrative device are explored through the writings of Frances Burney, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anne BrontÃ«, Dinah Craik, Wilkie Collins and Bram Stoker. The ideological function of the diary, Delafield suggests, produces a conflict in fictional narrative between that diary's received use as a domestic and spiritual record and its authority as a life-writing opportunity for women. Delafield considers women as writers, readers, and subjects and contextualizes her analysis within nineteenth-century reading practice. She demonstrates ways in which women could becomes performers of their own story through a narrative method which was authorized by their femininity and at the same time allowed them to challenge the myth of domestic womanhood.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: performing to strangers; Part 1 The Diary Model: The diary in the 19th century; The female diarist in the 19th century; The diary in print. Part 2 The Diary and Literary Production: The diary and women's writing; The diary and the epistolary form; The diary and serial narrative; The diary and the documentary; The diary and sensation fiction. Part 3 The Diary as Narrative: The diary narrating the novel; Bibliography; Index.
'There is much here to stimulate fresh readings of these novels.' Victorian Studies 'As Delafield has brilliantly shown, diaries are spaces for our second selves to be let out, and who knows where this may lead.' Women: A Cultural Review 'This thoroughly considered and methodically presented monograph merits the attention of scholars interested in specific genres or the core texts that serve as examples, and in gender studies focusing on women’s authority in self-representation, privately or in print.' Romanticism & Victorianism on the Net