edited by Domna C. Stanton
These original essays comprise a fascinating investigation into women's strategies for writing the self--constructing the female subject through autobiography, memoirs, letters, and diaries. The collection contains theoretical essays by Donna Stanton, Sandra Gilbert, and Susan Gilbert, and Susan Gubar; chapters on specific issues raised by women's autographs, such as Richard Bowring's study of tenth-century Japanese diaries or Janel Mueller's on "The Book of Margery Kempe"; and annotated autobiographical fragments, including texts by Julia Kristeva, by a woman who became a czarist cavalry officer, and by a contemporary Palestinian poet. There are also chapters on the seventeenth-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi; Mme de. Sevigne; Mendelssohn's sister, Fanny Hensel; the black minister Jarena Lee; Virginia Woolf; and Eva Peron. The result is a "conversation" between writers and critics across cultural and temporal boundaries. Stanton's essay plays off Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own." Kristeva begins with a reading of de Beauvoir, while a self-published French woman writes to defend the joys of family life against the author of "Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter."