onsdag 2 oktober 2013

Kate Zambrenos Heroines

Avantgarde-författaren Kate Zambreno kom förra aret ut med boken Heroines, som är en hybrid av essä och självbiografi, med ursprung i en blogg. Zambreno är en författare som är gift med en författare som ocksa är akademiker, och har i boken flyttat pa grund av makens arbete. Heroines är en undersökning av den kvinnliga intellektuelles position, den kvinnliga författarens möjligheter och begränsningar. Hon citerar TS Eliot: ‘I distrust the feminine in literature’. Och Flaubert, i ett brev till hans älskarinna ‘Don’t you feel everything is currently dissolving into the humid element – tears, chatter, breast-feeding. Contemporary literature is drowning in women’s menses.’ Tankegangarna känns sa väl igen -- Flauberts hävdande fran mitten av 1800-talet att den tidens litteratur "drunkar i kvinnors mens", serietecknaren som säger till Liv Strömquist pa 2000-talet, ‘kvinnliga serietecknare ritar bara serier om mens’.

Sheila Heti har en väldigt bra recension i London Review of Books av Heroines, där hon diskuterar  Zambrenos framställning och historiska paralleller -- till paret Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Simone Weil, Scott och Zelda Fitzgerald...

”Zambreno is usually talking about a historical figure, or several at once, or about her own life, or comparing her female subjects to herself. The comparisons aren’t meant to flatter her: their purpose is broader. She is endeavouring to create a type and determine whether and to what extent she belongs to it. She needs to do this because she doesn’t trust the inherited pictures of female types, since they are produced by ‘the patriarch’ who ‘decides on the form of communication. Decides on the language.’ Her task is urgent because we can only understand ourselves if others like us have come before. To imagine we are the first and only of our kind is certainly alienation.

So the comparisons begin: ‘We echoed the Eliots. Marrying fast out of a sense of noble adventure (they had known each other three months, we had known each other nine).’ Jane and Paul Bowles are always on the move – so are she and John. Zelda and Virginia Woolf had debilitating periods and headaches – she does, too. How far can she go? In one scene, she looks at Simone Weil. ‘I am Simone Weil,’ she declares, ‘although Simone Weil pushed bravely past her sinus headaches, working in the fields and organising worker protests, and writing her crystalline philosophical texts in her notebooks, while at the slightest hint of sinus troubles I dive under the covers. I am the exact opposite of Simone Weil.’

The unfortunate thing for Zambreno is that the women she has chosen are all mad. Or perhaps they weren’t mad, but were driven mad by their lives: their men, their culture, the doctors who didn’t understand them, and especially by the oppressiveness of their husbands’ genius and work, in which they were routinely turned into literature – the sickness came partly from being a character in someone else’s creation, a heroine not of one’s own making or in one’s own words. All we know for sure of these women survives in scraps – in their letters, in the few biographies, in the scant literary texts they managed to write, and in the way they appeared in the poems, novels and reports of people more famous than they were. ‘There appears to be a project to destroy these remnants, these reminders,’ Zambreno writes, ‘to destroy these women. And I have married a keeper of archives. I feel compelled to act as the literary executor of the dead and erased. I’m responsible for guarding their legacy.’”
Heroines kanske kan vara nagot för LIL:s bokcirkel?

om Heroines på svenska: http://ettlysandenamn.se/gurlesk/fagertun.html

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