Colloques & Conferences de l'Universite Lyon 2, "Rewriting / Reprising" - La reprise en litterature

Plundering the Fairy Tale and the Gothic in Patricia Highsmith's Little Tales of Misogyny

vara maria

Dernière modification: 2007-06-26


In the last decades of the twentieth century generic fiction has become a driving force behind much contemporary work, particularly by women authors. In other words, the notion of genre has shed the solidity of its machinery to adopt, in its postmodern reconfiguration, an elasticity and permeability of images and motifs. This paper will attempt to investigate the aesthetic/narratological and political implications of the fact that, within the spirit of the 1970s revisiting of earlier narratives, Patricia Highsmith's Little Tales of Misogyny (1975) bears a precarious relation to the fairy tale and the Gothic, by both rehearsing and undermining generic imperatives. The collection comprises seventeen brief, bizarre and excessive stories with titles such as ''The Breeder'', ''The Perfect Little Lady'', ''The Mobile Bed-Object'' etc. Their quirkiness derives from their resistance to the gender politics of the 1970s with its very specific feminist agenda. Comparing Highsmith's text with Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, this paper will explain how Highsmith's collection, too, offers a careful appropriation of naturalized motifs and formulae. This narrative strategy of genre ''plundering'' invites the reader to discover little cracks and diversions that upset genre predictability and become a tool for re-writing cultural history.
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