The Daughter as Reader

daughter readerThe Daughter as Reader juxtaposes personal narrative with literary criticism to celebrate the ways in which literature enriches and shapes individual experience. Paula Marantz Cohen’s lucidly written and compelling autobiographical essays read a variety of literary texts and cultural themes in provocative new ways, illuminated by feminist theory, psychoanalytic criticism, and literary history as well as by her experiences as daughter, sister, wife and mother. A Thomas Wyatt poem illuminates the author’s reactions to an episode of sexual harassment; her private struggle with anorexia nervosa inspires questions on the significance of eating disorders within a larger feminine aesthetic; an analysis of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw yields startling insights into the art of child-rearing.

The growing genre of autobiographical literary criticism–popularized by such works as Alice Kaplan’s French Lessons: A Memoir and Marianna De Marco Torgovnik’s Crossing Ocean Parkway: Readings by an Italian American Daughter–gains new ground with the publication of The Daughter as Reader.Courageously and creatively attempting to heal the breach between the private and the public–the literary and the critical, the mother and the professional, the wife and the feminist–it is essential reading for anyone interested in the connections between the personal, the literary, and the philosophical.

“…provides stimulating readings of the various texts, but also a provocative commentary on such issues as the problem of father-pleasing among feminist scholars, the limitations of Freudian literalness in assessing fantasy and repression, and the relationship between (Blakean) experience and variant readings.” –Annis Pratt, University of Wisconsin, Madison