This book offers striking insights into the desires and frustrations of women through the narratives of impressive contemporary novelists. Crafting its analysis on the gaze as presented by Lacan and Sartre, the book demonstrates how the subject creates her own ego against her alter egos or hostile others in the mirrors facing her, offering insight into women's powers and weaknesses. The first two mirroring chapters trace the women stalking its pages under a panoptic gaze, as they learn how to revert their look defiantly back onto others. Some win assurance through their own assertive gaze; others are stared down, reduced to psychic trauma, madness and even suicide beneath the demeaning force of the looks of others. These magnetising gazes are turned against the reader, offering insights that take us through a carnival hall of mirrors. The book then goes on to show how androcentric views such as Freud's perceive Medusa mothers as monstrous, splintering them from their daughters in the Electra syndrome. The efforts of mothers to nurture their children may be slighted as inadequate, with the mother's nurture condemned as devouring. The following pair of chapters present Medusa and inspiring goddesses motivating and reverting evil through the `evil eye' of their powerful gaze or inspirational force, or contrastingly condemn them as monstrous Gorgons, trapped in enmity, rivalry and rage. These literary discussions illuminate women's force in the writings of Angela Carter, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, Iris Murdoch, Jeanette Winterson, Jean Rhys and Michele Roberts. This smorgasbord of authors and their works exemplify English, American and Canadian writing, African American and Caribbean, including realistic, social narrative and magical realist writings, delving into re-interpretations of narratives, tales of the past and visions of dystopian futures.
Gillian M. E. Alban engages with women in her literary analyses, exploring the theme of mythic women as it emerges in contemporary literature. Her publications include Melusine the Serpent Goddess in A. S. Byatt's Possession and in Mythology (2003). She has elaborated her insights through a lifetime of enjoying the study and teaching of literature in Istanbul, where she lives and works.