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“Passing a looped and knotted string between their hands”. The Bible, the Women’s Liberation Movement and Women’s Bonds in Michèle Roberts’s The Wild Girl

Authors
  • Rychter, Ewa
Type
Published Article
Journal
Prague Journal of English Studies
Publisher
Walter de Gruyter GmbH
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2021
Volume
10
Issue
1
Pages
23–41
Identifiers
DOI: 10.2478/pjes-2021-0002
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

This paper claims that through a feminist rewriting of the Bible, Michèle Roberts’s novel The Wild Girl (1984) articulates the ambivalences and insecurities that emerged in the British Women’s Liberation movement after its initial period of great energy, hopefulness and enthusiasm of the 1970s. By rewriting the biblical insistence on female rivalry and competition, and revising biblical “gynotypes” and “fragmented women”, the novel not only exposes the patriarchal discourses of the Bible, but also critically revisits the WLM’s utopian visions of unity, and re-imagines the ways in which women can cooperate while preserving their differences. When juxtaposed with more recent women’s rewritings, often driven by (and catering to) market economy and consumer culture, Roberts’s novel is a useful remainder of the still consequential need to “look back in order to move forward” (Plate 406). The novel’s small-scale, grass-roots level sisterhood, never altogether free from tensions, is a quietly optimistic vision of women’s bonds, a “secret gospel” proclaiming the good news about the precarious and changeable relationship among women, and about the need of its incessant reworking.

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