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Seduction and Betrayal: Women and Literature

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4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  169 Ratings  ·  14 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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MG
Jul 07, 2012 MG rated it it was amazing
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
Anna
Jun 02, 2015 Anna rated it it was amazing
Hardwick writes with great eloquence and clarity and a feminist spirit. Those essays are nearly faultless and filled with awesome quotables that kept my highlighter engaged.

I wish I'd discovered Hardwick's literary criticism while close-reading Ibsen at uni. I really, really hated Ibsen then. Perhaps with Hardwick's sympathetic analysis at hand I would've had an easier time seeing through my distaste for the standards of the era which he wrote about, and seen his female characters with a bit mor
...more
M. Sarki
Apr 18, 2016 M. Sarki rated it really liked it
A remarkable collection of essays. Elizabeth Hardwick was certainly a talented writer who was not afraid to broach any subject. Informative and interesting, this is definitely a book worth reading.
Arlian
Feb 11, 2015 Arlian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was very disappointed with this book. A previous reviewer quoted the introduction, quoted from her review:

" '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 wasn't sure if this reviewers "That's nice" comment was meant to be factitious or cutting, but I second her comment but infuse
...more
Lavanya
Nov 03, 2011 Lavanya rated it it was amazing
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.
Keith
Jul 01, 2009 Keith rated it it was amazing
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.
Kirsten
Jul 21, 2008 Kirsten rated it really liked it
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
astried
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
Sunil
Jun 29, 2014 Sunil rated it it was amazing
Ah, the seducer;
he is a comic figure.
I myself should know.
Willow
Sep 12, 2008 Willow rated it liked it
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.
Helen
Nov 23, 2015 Helen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, 2015, yorw, nyrb
Truly amazing. What a book. Such thought provoking essays by Hardwick about women in literature, women authors and a final essay with the same name as the title. Harwick explores the idea of heroism, betrayal, seduction and victimhood of women in literature. I loved reading every page of this book. I highly recommend it.
Ena Alvarado
Sep 13, 2016 Ena Alvarado rated it liked it
Shelves: summer-craze, joanie
The essays on the Brontë sisters and Zelda Fitzgerald were excellent. Those on Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Jane Carlyle left much to be desired.
Rachel
Dec 21, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Most of my favorite books and authors analyzed brilliantly and beautifully. What could be better?
Rachel
Dec 13, 2007 Rachel rated it it was amazing
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...

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