The big rhetorical leap I’m taking in Heroines is that the impulse to discipline the self or the excessive out of our literature, comes from modernism and is mostly about moral attitudes of the time. In modernism we see this happen more with women writers, whose work and behavior was often critiqued as being TOO MUCH. Too excessive, too autobiographical, and then, not literary enough. There was a simultaneous horror for as well as fetishizing of the feminine in modernism. And now, think in terms of how Sheila Heti’s book was often reviewed. I’m curious why our conversation about fiction seems to often pivot on how fictional a work is. If that makes sense.
From a superb interview in which she discusses her latest book Heroines, an intoxicating and personal study of the wives of Modernism. I will undoubtedly be writing more about the book. You can read an excerpt of the book.
You may also enjoy this conversation between Tamara Faith Berger and Kate Zambreno.