Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature
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Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  93 ratings  ·  9 reviews
The novelist and essayist Elizabeth Hardwick is one of contemporary America's most brilliant writers, and Seduction and Betrayal, in which she considers the careers of women writers as well as the larger question of the presence of women in literature, is her most passionate and concentrated work of criticism. A gallery of unforgettable portraits--of Virginia Woolf and Zel...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 31st 2001 by NYRB Classics (first published May 28th 1974)
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Jul 07, 2012 MG rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: woeman
This is a collection of essays about women writers, female characters and sad, neglected ladies related to famous authors. In the introduction, Joan Didion says: "Elizabeth Hardwick is the only writer I have ever read whose perception of what it means to be a woman and a writer seems in every way authentic, revelatory, entirely original and yet acutely recognizable." That's nice. I looked at the TOC and thought, Oh. All the usual ladies: the Brontes, Zelda Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Plath, Ibse...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Hardwick is brilliant and moving in her portraits of the amateurs, Jane Carlyle, Dorothy Wordsworth, Zelda Fitzgerald. Her close reading of the life and works of her subjects and her identification of various echoes in her subject matter make for erudite yet humane essays. She is pretty forthright in her views but doesn't come across as scathing. Definite reread.
Terrific essays on canonical female writers and man-made female characters (title essay traces the subject from Richardson to Hawthorne to Hardy), but even better on the relationship between amateurs (Zelda F., Dorothy Wordsworth, and Jane Carlyle), their famouser male counterparts, and the act of writing.
Jul 21, 2008 Kirsten rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who just can't get enough of the Brontes, Plath, Woolf (i.e. huge nerds like myself)
Recommended to Kirsten by: Elizabeth
One reviewer described Hardwick as a "portraitist in miniature" and this seems very apt. In this collection of critical essays (critical only in the sense that they engage in some close reading of texts; I wouldn't consider them academic), she turns an erudite and gently puzzling tone to the work and life of the Bronte sisters and their characters; Sylvia Plath's incantatory "heroine" status in 20th century poetry; Virginia Woolf & Bloomsbury; the female characters of Ibsen; and the complex...more
the last chapter by itself deserves four stars

the rest of the book is a wonderful study on women in relation to literature. writer, characters and writer spouses. Hardwick posed the question on what it meant to be a woman, how they are portrayed in literature by author (men/women), how even when the women has not written the story themselves the live they shared with the authors influenced the literary characters, how being a woman hindered or supported the struggle of being a writer. Highly rec...more
Ah, the seducer;
he is a comic figure.
I myself should know.
Hardwick is a gifted critic, and I did enjoy her book a bundle. Keep in mind that Seduction and Betrayal is soley focused on examining female authors, and the wives of some famous male authors. Because of this, it seemed repetitive sometimes, although there were some stand out essays such as her pieces on Plath, and Fitzgerald's wife Zelda. The long title essay is also one of the better works in this collection.
Most of my favorite books and authors analyzed brilliantly and beautifully. What could be better?
RIP Elizabeth Hardwick....
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Elizabeth Hardwick was an American literary critic, novelist, and short story writer.

Hardwick graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1939. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947. She was the author of three novels: The Ghostly Lover (1945), The Simple Truth (1955), and Sleepless Nights (1979). A collection of her short fiction, The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, will be pub...more
More about Elizabeth Hardwick...
Sleepless Nights The New York Stories Herman Melville The Best American Essays 1986 American Fictions

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“They had created themselves together, and they always saw themselves, their youth, their love, their lost youth and lost love, their failures and memories, as a sort of living fiction.” 13 likes
“Nevertheless the severance is rather casual and it drops a stain on our admiration of Nora. Ibsen has put the leaving of her children on the same moral and emotional level as the leaving of her husband and we cannot, in our hearts, asssent to that. It is not only the leaving but the way the play does not have time for suffering, changes of heart. Ibsen has been too much a man in the end. He has taken the man's practice, if not his stated belief, that where self-realization is concerned children shall not be an impediment.” 4 likes
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