The Medusa Gaze offers striking insights into the desires and frustrations of women through the narratives of the impressive contemporary novelists Angela Carter, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, Iris Murdoch, Jeanette Winterson, Jean Rhys and Michele Roberts. It illuminates women's power and vulnerability as they construct their own egos in opposition to their hostile alter egos or others facing them in their mirrors, and fixes a panoptic gaze on the women stalking its pages, as they learn how to deflect the menacing gaze of others by returning their look defiantly back at them. Some stare back and win assurance; others are stared down, reduced to psychic trauma, madness and even suicide. The book shows how Freud's, Sartre's and Lacan's androcentric views define the Medusa m/other as monstrous, and how the efforts of mothers to nurture may be slighted as inadequate or devouring. It presents Medusa and other goddess figures as inspirational, repelling harm through the `evil eye' of their powerful gaze. Conversely, it also shows women who are condemned as monstrous Gorgons, trapped in enmity, rivalry and rage. Representing English, American and African American, Canadian and Caribbean writing, the works explored here include realistic, social narrative and magical realist writings, in addition to tales of the past and dystopian narratives.
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.