Narcissistic Mothers in Modernist Literature

New Perspectives on Motherhood in the Works of D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Jean Rhys

Narcissistic mothers are an important motif in modernist literature. Tracing its appearance in the works of writers such as D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf, this book questions the dichotomous image of either benevolent or suffocating mother, which has pervaded religion, art and literature for centuries. Instead of focusing on the mother-child dyad as characterized primarily by maternal domination and the child' s submission, Marie Géraldine Rademacher insists on the definitional nuances of the term »narcissism« and considers the political and socio-economic context of the time in shaping these women's narcissistic behavior. The study thus inspires a more positive (re)reading of the protagonists.

€29.99 * $35.00 *

9 September 2019, 178 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-4966-6

Payments in Euro can be made directly with us from destinations worldwide.
Prices incl. VAT. Free delivery within Germany, for other destinations see details.

* = recommended retail price

Recommend it

Marie Géraldine Rademacher

Marie Géraldine Rademacher, University of Tokyo, Japan

1. Why did you choose this topic?

When I started working on my manuscript, I was in my late twenties and became more sensible to socio-cultural expectations and perceptions of motherhood. Many of them were based on preconceived ideas, conveyed by the media, literature and the art, which sustained a dichotomous representation of mothers as either benevolent or deviant. Thus, it was necessary to address and challenge this image of women, which is well exemplified in the depiction of narcissistic mothers in modernist literature.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

Recently, there have been some major publications which also focus on the persisting paradoxical representation of mothers/motherhood and aim at deconstructing the cultural invention of ›good‹ or ›bad‹ mother. My book differs from these prominent works by essentially drawing on a Freudian reading of narcissism in order to debunk the myth of ›selfless mothers‹, and by specifically dealing with concrete examples found in modernist literature, while other works concentrate on contemporary cases.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

Alone in 2018, there were at least three high-profile publications on this issue, e.g: Sheila Heti's Motherhood, Dale Salwak's Writers and their Mothers and Jacqueline Rose's Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty. It indicates a strong and constant need to further explore the issue of the representation of motherhood. Therefore, my book is relevant to contemporary socio-political debates on the question as well as to the on-going literary criticism and study of these mainstream writers.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

I would like to discuss my book with Sheila Heti, who in her book written as a diary reveals the conflictual thoughts of a woman in her mid-thirties, who hesitates between her desire/duty to have or not have a child. She tackles important questions such as whether women really exercise free will over their fertility or again if the act of procreation should be considered a means to satisfy one's vanity. Although set in a different time frame, her book raises similar issues as mine.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

Inspired by Freudian psychoanalytic theory and modernist literature, my book re-conceptualizes the notions of ›narcissism‹ and ›motherhood‹ in order to embrace a more positive and constructive reading of narcissistic mother figures.

Book title
Narcissistic Mothers in Modernist Literature New Perspectives on Motherhood in the Works of D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Jean Rhys
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung
Commodity Group
LIT004120 LIT000000 PSY026000
Release date
9 September 2019
Psychoanalyse, Literatur
Literary Studies, Sociology, Psychology, Gender Studies
Narcissism, Motherhood, Self-Love, Modernism, Twentieth Century, Literature, Psychoanalysis, British Studies, General Literature Studies, Gender Studies, Literary Studies

We use cookies to enable the use of certain functions on this website.

Privacy statement