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Brilliant Women Writers.

(157 Posts)
StewieGriffinsMom Sat 04-Jun-11 10:05:11

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Threadworm8 Sat 04-Jun-11 10:06:31

Chiefly because I happen to be reading her atm,

Lionel Shriver

Threadworm8 Sat 04-Jun-11 10:07:11

George Eliot, of course.

ColonelBrandonsBiggestGroupie Sat 04-Jun-11 10:11:56

I struggle to think of ANY truly brilliant writers, male or female - other than Austen of course.

But good (but flawed so not brilliant) female writers imho include:
Margaret Atwood
Isabel Allende

A couple - Shelley/the Brontes - are certainly good writers but didn't write enough to merit the title of brilliance imho.

And a couple who you list in the op are, again imho, frankly rubbish - Kate Mosse in particular.

It's a difficult one.

Threadworm8 Sat 04-Jun-11 10:18:14

Gosh, what must your definition of brilliance be if you struggle to find any brilliant writers?

Re Austen, I wouldn't put her at the top. I do think she is brilliant, but it is the brilliance of wit and polish and artifice and irony, not any deeps truths of characterisation or experience. There are many I would place above her.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 04-Jun-11 10:22:09

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ColonelBrandonsBiggestGroupie Sat 04-Jun-11 10:26:15

I keep the bar HIGH! Austen and Stephen King are my favourites but Austen is the only one I'd define as truly brilliant and completely unflawed. I don't think it matters that her novels lack depth of experience - she had plenty of experience but chose to zoom in to something smaller but no less important. I suppose she could be compared to those artists focusing on the hearths of home, rather than the soldier at the front.

The problem is that so much gets published by both male and female writers and so much of it is crap. We're so used to reading 'the next big thing' and being told by R&J or whomever, how great it is, that we don't filter as much. Even the Harry Potter books, which I adore, would benefit from some serious editing and nobody could say that Rowling is a brilliant writer - she created brilliant characters and can certainly think of an exciting plot but she is not brilliant in total.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 04-Jun-11 10:29:33

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Threadworm8 Sat 04-Jun-11 10:31:12

My reading is horribly Euro-centric too. Re the European novel, I can of course think of more male brilliant novelists that female, but I'm sure that reflects the greater opportuinities and nurturing for execllence that men have compared with women right across the board. And what also seems tru to me, although I can't put my finger on how to characterise it, is that the novel as a form is something deeply and inherently structured by female modes of experience. Perhaps that's down to not much more than the fact that, in Britain, the genre was partly shaped by some brilliant women. I'm not sure though. It certainly makes it endlessly surprsing to me that there is this hypermasculine Hemingwayesque skew to the popular image in America of The Great Novelist

ColonelBrandonsBiggestGroupie Sat 04-Jun-11 10:33:53

V true re: The Great American Novel. Dp made me read some Cormac McCarthy - it was awful; women are mere apendages to men and have to suffer for them almost as payment to prove another man's manliness. V depressing.

motherinferior Sat 04-Jun-11 10:35:14

Angela Carter (Wise Children is quite possibly my Best Book Ever)

(Sorry, I'm having problems taking the HP books seriously as Literature. They are quite charming in their minor way, but plenty of other children's fantasy writers like Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones knock them into a cocked - female - hat.)

ColonelBrandonsBiggestGroupie Sat 04-Jun-11 10:38:47

Mother - Stewie listed JKR as somebody she likes but who does not write 'literature.' Both of the writers you name are better writers, technically, than JKR but I prefer JKR's books for excitement and the sheer ability to pull you in and keep you there until it's done!

motherinferior Sat 04-Jun-11 10:40:24

Yes, Rowling does biff-biff-biff action. I think she is a splendid woman. I like her politics and her attitude. But I personally think those other two are much better, more compelling, entertaining writers of children's fantasy.

Threadworm8 Sat 04-Jun-11 10:41:34

Uck. JKR can barely write at all, but all power to her for coming up with a bestseller.

Stephen King is interesting. He is partly awful and partly very good.

motherinferior Sat 04-Jun-11 10:41:52

On the other hand, I think that Jane Eyre, and the lunatic bonkersness of Villette, and the utter off the wall-ness of Wuthering Heights, are rather terrific. (But I would. I wrote an MA thesis about them all once.)

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 04-Jun-11 10:43:19

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StewieGriffinsMom Sat 04-Jun-11 10:43:39

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motherinferior Sat 04-Jun-11 10:43:58

There were also all those terrific nineteenth century and early twentieth century novelists that Virago republished. My personal favourite was Mary Braddon, who was part of the 1860s Sensational Novelist vogue (along with Wilkie Collins, who doesn't fall into this category obviously, because of being a man, but wrote some great stuff). MB wrote Lady Audley's Secret, about a beautiful meek blonde governess who murders people, and Aurora Floyd, which is all about murder and bigamy and horseracing and betting.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 04-Jun-11 10:45:50

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Armi Sat 04-Jun-11 10:46:57

Sarah Waters. Intelligent yet thumpingly good yarns. The Night Watch is stunning.

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 04-Jun-11 10:47:39

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Threadworm8 Sat 04-Jun-11 10:47:40

Have we forgotten Virginia Woolf? Brilliant and astonishing.

Also, with a query: Iris Murdoch; Dodie Whatsit for I Capture the Castle; Doris Lessing.

ColonelBrandonsBiggestGroupie Sat 04-Jun-11 10:48:58

I've just read and enjoyed Lady Audley's Secret but it wasn't 'brilliant.' The author had a horrible habit of intruding in her own plot and writing pages and pages of nonsense whilst the reader had to wait for her to get on with it all again. REALLY annoying.

Threadworm8 Sat 04-Jun-11 10:49:16

I feel like just saying Virginia Woolf again and again. I must read Naipaul. He must be just outstanding if he is so sure he is streets ahead of these women.

motherinferior Sat 04-Jun-11 10:49:58

Oh god yes. NW is one of the best books I know (along with Wise Children).

Aurora Floyd is the name of the novel. Braddon is the author.

What is also interesting is that women like Braddon, iirc, wrote as a job. I do think it is very important not simply to feel that women's history is entirely one of stuff we were not able to do - women have been doing things like this, very successfully.

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