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“Because a Fire Was in My Head”: Eudora Welty and the Dialogic Imagination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2021

Abstract

Feminist theory has argued that in a literary tradition overburdened by patriarchal legends and signs, women writers who wish to develop authentic, autonomous voices must devote themselves to their feminine precursors and abandon a masculine canon. In The Golden Apples, however, Eudora Welty appropriates images and themes of several poems by Yeats to dramatize the concerns of her heroines. Mikhail Bakhtin's theories of dialogism and of heteroglossia suggest a critical framework for exploring Welty's expropriations, but Bakhtin's method fails to consider the category of gender as a potent source for the dialogic tension characteristic of the novel as genre. Viewed from this perspective Welty's writing is more subversive than many of her critics have perceived, while Bakhtin's insights into the nature of novelistic discourse are useful in describing the restructuring of traditions that occurs in women's texts. Bakhtin's ideas must be understood and amplified, however, in the light of recent feminist theory.

Type
Research Article
Information
PMLA , Volume 99 , Issue 5 , October 1984 , pp. 955 - 973
Copyright
Copyright © 1984 by The Modern Language Association of America

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