A while back, E. told me she and a colleague of hers intended to start a collective feminist blog. Ever since she let me know the blog was up and running (http://alicedowntherabbithole.wordpress.com/ - I love the name of blog :) I've been trying to think of a topic for the blog. Herta Muller winning the Nobel Prize for Literature seemed a pretty cool topic. Plus, thanks to the free access to SAGE Publications, I had found this really interesting article about literature and feminist theory. Indeed, it seemed like all this was a great basis for a good piece of writing. But, in the end, I was so unhappy with what I wrote that I decided I wouldn't send it to E. anymore. It's painful how bad it is. Still, Herta Muller winning the Nobel Prize is a huge deal, so I will write here an approximate translation of what I would've written for Down the Rabbit Whole.
October 8, 2009: Herta Muller wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. A German female writer of Romanian origin wins the Nobel Prize. Yes, indeed, wow! But what it's interesting here is the part about "female writer", and not so much the part about the "Romanian origin". Herta Muller is only the 12th woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, the fact that during this decade we have three women who won the literary Nobel (Doris Lessing in 2007 and Elfriede Jelinek in 2004) makes me almost optimistic. Is it really possible? Is the literature written by women taken more seriously than in the past? Or is it just that, in the case of Literature, gender has become irrelevant, and the term "writer" is universal?
In 'I am not a woman writer'. About women, literature and feminist theory today* (published in Feminist Theory). Toril Moi asks why the question of the woman writer disappeared from the feminist theoretical agenda around 1990.
But I'll start with the end of the article. To the question "What is literature?", Toril Moi gives the following answer:
Literature is the archive of a culture. We turn to literature to discover what makes other human beings suffer and laugh, hate and love, how people in other countries live, and how men and women experienced life in other historical periods. To turn women into second-class citizens in the realm of literature is to say that women’s experiences of existence and of the world are less important than men’s.
If I take a look at the list of Nobel Prize winners for Literature and also at the literary works that have passed the test of time, I can only come to one conclusion: literature offers us a masculine perspective on life. I'm not sure what high scool kids have to read nowadays, but my question is: why Camil Petrescu and not Cella Serghi, why Hemingway and not Woolf, why The Catcher in the Rye and not The Bell Jar?
Herta Muller, Doris Lessing and Elfriede Jelinek have the advantage of the Nobel Prize, but what about the rest of contemporary female writers? How will their work survive in time? I think it's important that the issue of the woman writer reappeared on the agenda of feminist theory so that the work of other female writers (Jeanette Winterson comes to mind) can be valued as it deserves to. And because, in the end, if feminists don't take care of this, who else will?
(This piece of writing doesn't make any sense, right? I mean, it has no structure! Ufa...)
Update: Here's my first feminist blog post. Very frivolous stuff.