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Does it sadden anyone else that the adjectives used to describe Harriet Burden are crazy, angry, artist, feminist? And then as if to confirm negative stereotypes about artists and feminists that they truly are nuts, Burden is under the care of a psychiatrist. It's a work of fiction, but it is anchored in reality. Do you think The Blazing World further undermines feminism and women artists?

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Claudia Putnam No. Who ISN'T under the care of a psychiatrist? And it was made clear this is one of the analyst types of psychiatrists, which it seems you can only find in New York anyway, not the kind who specialized in prescribing medications and managing illness. And the whole point is that these ARE the adjectives used to describe Harry, that these are mechanisms by which people (mainly men) dismiss her. If she'd been male and had behaved the same, would people use those same adjectives? (Though I can't see what's wrong with artist. That's what she is, after all.)
Liesbeth That is the entire point of the book, it seems to me. The perception of Harriet Burden and her perception of herself through the lenses of her upbringing and her reading, and how this relates to and goes into dialogue with the history of western art and the historical as well as present-day misogyny towards female artists (concept of the muse, female histeria etc). It's a complex narrative though, so I don't think the writer wanted to send out a simple feminist message about some kind of mistreated heroin.
Nageen naaa... The adjectives reflect how people viewed her and in return her constant rebellion went against her as well. Plus there is nothing anti feminine about describing a woman as crazy or whatever. The point was that she died for her cause and the world carried on like it always will. The Blazing World never undermines women, it portrays truly how it is out there. By the end I was hoping the author will show how Harriet gained recognition, but it was a true depiction of how life really is and not some shallow "happy ending".
Rebecca I agree with other responses, that this is a book about sexist perceptions of women, and that those words are part of that experience. Also, the book is about the messiness of humanity and creativity, so a simply "positive" female representation isn't the goal. Under what terms would it be possible to create a "positive" representation of an woman artist anyway, if we take one of the points of the book to be about the gendered character of most value judgment?
Jo I didn't really notice this while I was reading the book, but thinking about it now it could be that Professor Hess, the "author" of the book was male. Even though he was sympathetic to Harry's cause, he still was affected by societal consciousness.
I love the idea that Siri wrote this while wearing a male "mask"
Barbara Rhine It does sadden me that these are the words that are used, but I think it is true in the real world and that, as in this wonderful novel, that fact adds intensity to a given artist's experience, and makes her more unbalanced, perhaps, than she would otherwise be.
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