From a "Child of Light" to a "Woman of Genius": Sarah Grand's The Beth Book as the New Woman Bildungsroman
Keywords:New Woman novels, Sarah Grand, The Beth Book, Bildungsroman
The New Woman fiction, popular in the last decade of the 19th century, contested the traditional notions of gender roles and participated in the public debates on women’s rights. The protagonists of the New Woman novels refused to conform to the submissive and self-abnegating Victorian ideal of femininity. The article discusses the ways in which Sarah Grand, a prominent New Woman novelist and social activist, uses and transforms both the elements of her own life and the Bildungsroman conventions in her 1897 novel The Beth Book to create a heroine whose growth and development result in her personal independence and her active public engagement in women’s issues. Cast in a variety of social roles, Beth Maclure reclaims her agency and becomes an embodiment of the New Woman.
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