Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Guest Post by Anna: A Literary Canon of Women Writers, Part Thirteen: Last of the Nineteenth Century

Echidne's note: Earlier parts of this series can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 ,Part 5, Part 6, Part 7,Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11 and Part 12.

Christina Georgina Rossetti
(5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894) was an English poet who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children's poems. She is best known for her long poem "Goblin Market", her love poem "Remember", and for the words of the Christmas carol "In the Bleak Midwinter". Her poem "Love Came Down at Christmas" has also been widely used for a carol. She was deeply religious and often suffered from depression, as well as suffering from Graves Disease for the last decades of her life; she eventually died of breast cancer.

Her most famous collection, Goblin Market and Other Poems, appeared in 1862, when she was 31. It received widespread critical praise, establishing her as the main female poet of the time. Hopkins, Swinburne, and Tennyson praised her work, and with the death of poet Elizabeth Browning in 1861 Rossetti was considered her natural successor.

The title poem is one of Rossetti's best known works. Although it is literally about two sisters' misadventures with goblins, critics have interpreted the piece in a variety of ways: seeing it as an allegory about temptation and salvation; a commentary on Victorian gender roles and female agency; and a work about erotic desire and social redemption. Her works are widely available in English.

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet whose work became widely known and critically acclaimed after her death. She spent most of her life as a recluse in her Amherst, Massachusetts home. After her death in 1886 her younger sister Lavinia discovered her poems, and in 1890 Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Louis Todd published a heavily edited collection of her poems. A complete edition was not published until 1955, and an edition arranged in the way she originally arranged her poems was not published until 1981.

There were initially unfavorable reviews and skepticism of her literary prowess during the late 19th and early 20th century, but now Dickinson is considered a major American poet. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation.

Some scholars have suggested that the numerous letters and poems that were dedicated to Susan Gilbert Dickinson indicate a lesbian romance, but this is difficult to verify as Lavinia and Susan burned some of Emily's letters, as Emily had asked them to. Emily Dickinson's complete poems are available in English in The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson and Thomas H. Johnson.

Fatma Aliye Topuz (October 9, 1862 - July 13, 1936), aka simply Fatma Aliye or Fatma Aliye Hanım, was a Turkish novelist, writer, and women's rights activist. Although there is an earlier published novel by the Turkish female author Zafer Hanım in 1877, since that one remained her only novel, Fatma Aliye Hanım with her five novels is credited as the first female novelist in Turkish literature. Her husband was less clever than her and, during the first years of their marriage, did not allow her to read novels written in foreign languages.

Fatma Aliye published her first novel Muhazarat ("Useful Information") in 1892 under her real name, in which she tried to disprove the belief that a woman cannot forget her first love. It was the first novel in the entire Ottoman Empire written by a woman. The book was reprinted in 1908. Her novel Udi ("The Lute Player"), published in 1899, depicts a female oud player, whom Fatma Aliye met in Aleppo. Renowned novelist Resat Nuri Guntekin refers to Udi as one of the most important works, which attracted his interest in literature.

Her other novels are Raf'et (1898), Enin (1910) ("Groaning") and Levaih-i Hayat ("Scenes from Life"). She thematized in her works marriage, harmony between the spouses, love and affection, and the importance of courtship, contrary to arranged marriage.. Further, she created independent and self-reliant heroines, who work and earn own money without the need of a man.

In 1893, her prominence increased after the publication of Ahmet Mithat's book Bir Muharrire-i Osmaniye'nin Neşeti ("Birth of An Ottoman Female Writer") composed of Fatma Aliye's letters. In these letters, she expresses her never-ending enthusiasm to learn. Her essay "Nisvan-ı İslâm" was translated into French under the title "Les femmes muselmannes" and also into Arabic language, and her novel Udi into French. A criticism of her, published in a French newspaper, about a book titled Women of East and West by Frenchman Émile Julliard attracted much attention in Paris. Her work was also exhibited at the library of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, USA and was listed in the catalogue of the Women's Library at the fair.

Beside her literary works, she wrote for thirteen years between 1895 and 1908 columns in the magazine Hanımlara Mahsus Gazete ("Ladies' Own Gazette") about women's rights without giving up her conservative views. Her sister Emine Semiye (1864–1944), one of the first Turkish feminists, was also among the intellectual women as editorial staff of the twice a week issued magazine.

In her 1896 published book Nisvan-ı İslam ("Women of Islam"), Fatma Aliye explained the situation of Muslim women to the western world. As written in her magazine columns, she defended in this book the conservative traditions contrary to the modern characters she created in her novels. Her works are unfortunately not widely available in English.

Note: The entries for the authors included in the literary canon for all of the nineteenth century have been placed in chronological order by the authors' dates of birth here.