For centuries, women who aspired to write had to enter a largely male literary tradition that offered few, if any, literary forms in which to express their perspectives on lived experience. Since the nineteenth century, however, women writers and readers have been producing "disobedient" counter-narratives that, while clearly making reference to the original texts, overturn their basic assumptions.
This book looks at both canonical and non-canonical works, over a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres, that offer counter-readings of familiar Western narratives. Nancy Walker begins by probing women's revisions of two narrative traditions pervasive in Western culture: the biblical story of Adam and Eve, and the traditional fairy tales that have served as paradigms of women's behavior and expectations. She goes on to examine the works of a wide range of writers, from contemporaries Marilynne Robinson, Ursula Le Guin, Anne Sexton, Fay Weldon, Angela Carter, and Margaret Atwood to precursors Caroline Kirkland, Fanny Fern, Mary De Morgan, Mary Louisa Molesworth, Edith Nesbit, and Evelyn Sharp.