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This review is taken from PN Review 148, Volume 29 Number 2, November - December 2002.

A FEMALE ARCHAEOLOGY JANET MONTEFIORE, Arguments of Heart and Mind: Selected Essays 1977-2000 (Manchester University Press)

Janet Montefiore is probably best known for two studies interrogating how women's writing developed in relation to the literary and more specifically the poetic tradition. Her first book, Feminism and Poetry (1987), like Alicia Ostriker's Stealing the Language (1987), delineated the strategies by which a number of American and British women poets constructed their own traditions in poetry while investigating the ways in which they defined themselves in relation to the canon. Her second, Men and Women Writers of the 1930s: The Dangerous Flood of History (1996), sought to relocate and interrogate a generation of women eclipsed by the more overt focus on writers like Orwell, Greene, Auden, Spender and Isherwood then current in literary histories of the inter-war period, and its impact has been to refocus in new and exciting ways critical readings of the culture and literary values of the period.

This collection of selected essays draws together a series of companion pieces to those projects and some new and diverse pieces. These can be understood as a kind of genealogy of the author's critical interests - language and power, poetic canons and traditions, gender and representation, feminisms and their troubled negotiations with the maternal and maternity. Many revisit the terrain of the previously mentioned volumes, delving deep into the work of writers Montefiore suggests have been 'undeservedly forgotten', like Sylvia Townsend Warner, or those who are the subject of much critical revision in the present moment like H.D., Adrienne Rich, and Rudyard Kipling. No ...


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