Advanced

Mirrors in Russian Women’s Autobiographical Writing : The Self Reflected in Works by Alla Demidova and Vera Luknitskaia

Sarsenov, Karin LU (2010) In Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature 34(2).
Abstract
In autobiographical writing, the mirror is not only a privileged metaphor for the genre as a whole; it also functions as a primary administrator of boundaries, demarcating the space of the self from the foreign, the chaotic, the unknown. The mirror metaphor is not a gender neutral one: in Western elite culture the mirror has served to reinforce the patriarchal dichotomy between man/mind and woman/body, prompting Luce Irigaray’s view of the mirror as “a male-directed instrument of literal objectification.” This article examines two women-authored texts in which the mirror motif is fundamental to the construction of the autobiographical self: the actress Alla Demidova’s The Flying Line of Memory (2000) and the literary scholar Vera... (More)
In autobiographical writing, the mirror is not only a privileged metaphor for the genre as a whole; it also functions as a primary administrator of boundaries, demarcating the space of the self from the foreign, the chaotic, the unknown. The mirror metaphor is not a gender neutral one: in Western elite culture the mirror has served to reinforce the patriarchal dichotomy between man/mind and woman/body, prompting Luce Irigaray’s view of the mirror as “a male-directed instrument of literal objectification.” This article examines two women-authored texts in which the mirror motif is fundamental to the construction of the autobiographical self: the actress Alla Demidova’s The Flying Line of Memory (2000) and the literary scholar Vera Luknitskaia’s Ego – Echo (2003). A close reading of the texts maps out the operations performed by the mirror and locates the boundaries delineated. The reading shows that the two authors are united by the fervency with which they affirm their social identity as members of the intelligentsia. Their gendered identity is expressed in terms of vulnerability, implicitly in Demidova, by the omission of all intimate detail, and explicitly in Luknitskaia, in reports of sexual assault. However, both have omitted one of the most frequently encountered uses of the mirror motif in European culture – to connote female vanity. In their work, the mirror is a productive literary device, affirming the feminine self. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
sexuality, autobiography, social identity, women authors
in
Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature
volume
34
issue
2
publisher
New Prairie Press
ISSN
1555-7839
DOI
10.4148/2334-4415.1732
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d7b51833-c53f-4551-98f1-4f19aabf6fd0 (old id 1717249)
date added to LUP
2010-11-18 08:34:19
date last changed
2018-05-29 09:44:17
@article{d7b51833-c53f-4551-98f1-4f19aabf6fd0,
  abstract     = {In autobiographical writing, the mirror is not only a privileged metaphor for the genre as a whole; it also functions as a primary administrator of boundaries, demarcating the space of the self from the foreign, the chaotic, the unknown. The mirror metaphor is not a gender neutral one: in Western elite culture the mirror has served to reinforce the patriarchal dichotomy between man/mind and woman/body, prompting Luce Irigaray’s view of the mirror as “a male-directed instrument of literal objectification.” This article examines two women-authored texts in which the mirror motif is fundamental to the construction of the autobiographical self: the actress Alla Demidova’s The Flying Line of Memory (2000) and the literary scholar Vera Luknitskaia’s Ego – Echo (2003). A close reading of the texts maps out the operations performed by the mirror and locates the boundaries delineated. The reading shows that the two authors are united by the fervency with which they affirm their social identity as members of the intelligentsia. Their gendered identity is expressed in terms of vulnerability, implicitly in Demidova, by the omission of all intimate detail, and explicitly in Luknitskaia, in reports of sexual assault. However, both have omitted one of the most frequently encountered uses of the mirror motif in European culture – to connote female vanity. In their work, the mirror is a productive literary device, affirming the feminine self.},
  author       = {Sarsenov, Karin},
  issn         = {1555-7839},
  keyword      = {sexuality,autobiography,social identity,women authors},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  publisher    = {New Prairie Press},
  series       = {Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature},
  title        = {Mirrors in Russian Women’s Autobiographical Writing : The Self Reflected in Works by Alla Demidova and Vera Luknitskaia},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.4148/2334-4415.1732},
  volume       = {34},
  year         = {2010},
}