Confronting the abject: women and dead babies in modern English fiction

Journal article


Minogue, S. and Palmer, A. 2006. Confronting the abject: women and dead babies in modern English fiction. Journal of Modern Literature. 29 (3), pp. 103-125.
AuthorsMinogue, S. and Palmer, A.
Abstract

Jean Rhys and Aldous Huxley were groundbreaking in that they represented the experience of illegal abortion openly with no apparent disapprobation, drawing it to the attention of a significant readership. Their representations – bodily, but grim – resonate with Bakhtin’s argument that modernity can sustain only a denigrated version of the grotesque, a faint echo of the carnivalesque humour of Rabelais, where laughter is superseded by fear (in Kristeva’s term, the abject). Twenty-five years later, Alan Sillitoe and Nell Dunn pushed the limits further, placing abortion at the centre of their novels, forcing the reader to engage with the woman’s experience, while working within a realist tradition that did not spare harsh details. Within this tradition they are nonetheless sometimes playful, even comic, in their language and modes of representation, carrying readers far beyond the stark specifics of realism and outside the reductive restrictions of the polarized abortion debate.

KeywordsJean Rhys; Aldous Huxley; fiction; abject, abortion
Year2006
JournalJournal of Modern Literature
Journal citation29 (3), pp. 103-125
PublisherIndiana University Press
ISSN0022-281X
Official URLhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/3831690
Publication dates
Print2006
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Jul 2015
Accepted17 Oct 2005
Output statusPublished
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