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Writing Men

Literary Masculinities from Frankenstein to the New Man

Berthold Schoene

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In Writing Men, Berthold Schoene-Harwood develops a trajectory of masculine emancipation from the monstrous imagery of nineteenth-century fiction to contemporary men writers' experimental new discourse of écriture masculine. Looking at 13 individual case studies, Schoene-Harwood outlines the historical development of literary representations of masculinity from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Ian McEwan's The Child in Time. Subdivided into four parts, the study's first section takes a journey into the nineteenth-century pre-history of post-war and contemporary British men's writing, introducing readers to literature's capacity to both consolidate and unsettle traditional conceptions of femininity and masculinity. In Part II, detailed readings of modern classics such as Lord of the Flies, A Clockwork Orange, Look Back in Anger and Room at the Top reveal the persistence of patriarchal gender hierarchies in the 1950s and early 1960s. The third and central section explores the influence feminist thought has had on some men's contemporary re-imaging of themselves beyond the confines of traditional gender formations. The final section discusses Neil Bartlett's Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall as an attempt to subvert patriarchal masculinity from a gay male perspective. Inspired by feminist theory and the new academic discipline of Men's Studies, Schoene-Harwood analyses men's writing both in relation to women's writing and as a literary genre in its own right. Arguing for a new discourse of écriture masculine, Writing Men makes a challenging and theoretically ambitious contribution to current critical debates on the literary representation of gender.

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About the Author

Berthold Schoene is Professor of English and Director of the English Research Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is the editor of The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Literature (EUP, 2007) and author of The Cosmopolitan Novel (EUP, 2009) and Writing Men (EUP, 2000).

Reviews

Writing Men is well-organised, rendering it both intellectually accessible and pedagogically useful ... provides theoretical clarity whilst avoiding over-simplifications ... Supported by a full bibliography, Writing Men is a lively work of theorised and applied criticism of value to anyone concerned with current debates over masculine literary representation and the potential for an emancipatory ecriture masculine.
An admirable … first step towards an enormous and vital body of literary work.
Berthold Schoene-Harwood's study brings insights arising from Men's Studies to bear on a selection of literary texts ... the strengths of Schoene-Harwood's study lie in its theoretical probings of fiction's engagements with 'patriarchal masculinity'.
Schoene-Harwood's study does not only convince with its excellent new interpretations of many well-known novels, but by applying an interestingly new angle of interpretation to some classics it can also prove the significance of that approach … offers important insights on aspects of cultural history and psychological theories."