Disputing authorities : the longer fiction of Rebecca West
The thesis offers a reading of Rebecca West's longer fiction as texts constituted by disputing authorities. It begins by placing West in a socio-historical context, showing how her own life, personal and political interests were insistently grappling with questions of authority. It moves on in the second chapter to examine the contradictions inherent in the patterning of narrative structures in West's fiction. The third chapter considers the construction of authority within narrative contexts as a complex of textual power relations. A reading of female subject positions as sites of gendered struggle comprises the last chapter. Together these demonstrate the necessity for the redefinition of the notion of authority, a move which has significant implications for the meaning and relevance of power in respect of art and female subjectivity. In the course of the thesis, I draw on a selection of West's non-fiction writing and journalism, as well as autobiographical and biographical material, in order to furnish 8 context for her work, and to highlight the significance of opposing voices heard through the fictional texts. My readings are made from a feminist perspective (no extended study of West's fiction has hitherto been made from this pOSition), and are influenced by the writings of a range of feminist critics and theoreticians.