Sunday, June 19, 2011

Better than Jane Austen? Are Women Writers Inferior to Male Writers?

The Guardian: V.S. Naipaul finds no woman writer his literary match----not even Jane Austen

SpeakEasy: Jane Austen Caught in Crossfire in Literary Battle of the Sexes (counter comments to V.S. Naipaul)

Nobel Prize Winner V.S. Naipaul “claims that there is no woman writer who could serve as his literary match (The Guardian)." He takes a distinctive stab at our dear Jane Austen saying she is sentimental, as are all women writers. Read the article in The Guardian here as it is very interesting.

Am I inferior?

Janeites love our dear Jane and our feathers tend to get ruffled when there are those who do not agree. I must admit to my hackles rising a bit because while Mr. Naipaul is entitled to his own opinion, as we all are, is it really fair to say that men write better than men? I know plenty of men who are sentimental and it doesn’t make them any less manly for it. Men and women write from different perspectives, but to call Jane sentimental?

Jane Austen was if anything, bound to realism in her writing. The reality of the status of women in her time or even the realities of rich vs. poor. She wrote with such wit and such prose that she made herself timeless. Her novels have become almost immortal in their presence. Jane as a woman and as a writer is not inferior. Neither are other women writers.

What about the Brontes? Were they sentimental? I hardly call the Brontes sentimental. They wrote of their own harsh reality which was far from everyday happiness. Wuthering Heights anyone? That is not exactly a sentimental, all ends well love story. It’s one of my favorite books, but I will be the first to admit that the novel is depressing and leaves you feeling angry and well….like crap.

Even in Jane Austen’s happy endings we cannot forget the poor end for Lydia Bennet having to marry poor Wickham, Willoughby giving up Marianne for the money and security offered by Miss Grey, Miss Thorpe losing James Morland because she was unfaithful, Miss Bates lonely existence or Charlotte Lucas’ practical marriage to the odious Mr. Collins. If these outcomes are sentimental then I would hate to see what reality actually is.

Well Mr. Naipaul you are entitled to your opinion, but I respectfully disagree. As a woman and as a writer I am neither sentimental or inferior, I just have a different perspective than you.

What are your thoughts my dear readers? Are women writers inferior to male writers? Are women writers just sentimental?


Jessica said...

Ha, ha, ha! *wipes tear* Is this guy for real?

Love everything about it.

He might as well say "I'm better because I have a penis. Look, no really, I do!"

Can they take away your Nobel Prize for being a moron? Someone needs to look into that.

Anonymous said...

This guy's an idiot. Only a man who feels truly inferior in his work would say something like this or even dare make an example of Jane Austen. This is mere chauvanistic, machismo b.s.

Debra Brown said...

I don't know what he writes, but who is he to judge it? If he took his favorite five books and laid them out, how many people would agree that they were the best five books? No one can be the judge of what is best for all. People have different tastes. I'm sure I would not prefer what he does, not because there is anything wrong with me, but simply because I am a different person.

Risa said...

What's wrong with being sentimental? I strongly believe women bring something to writing that men never can and vice versa. Naipaul is just one of those chauvinists that shouldn't be taken seriously.

I've never read his works though. I've heard is excellent! Should be interesting to ponder on his comment once I know how he writes. I'm not saying that he is right, only wondering if his comment was even worth all that arrogance!! In fact, why just women writers?.... A complex perhaps?

Btw, you have an interesting blog. I was just googling up paintings when I happend upon this.:)