To write as a women is a meaningful act. But several women authors regard gender as only part of an artistic identity which must ideally be transcended in the construction of their novels. Their aim is to write 'beyond gender' in order to offer a wider perspective on the world. This new book focuses on twentieth-century women writers who are major presences in literary history, but who have not yet been included in large-scale feminist debate: Elizabeth Bowen, Dorothy L. Sayers, Olivia Manning, Barbara Pym, Iris Murdoch and A.S. Byatt. Their novels are fascinating - not least for the passion for ideas which these authors bring to their work. By-passing the experimentation of the modernists, they carried on a Victorian tradition of realist fiction, dramatizing darkness in wartime, gothic terror, madness and romantic betrayal, yet celebrating the triumph of rationality and the 'Higher Common Sense'.

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