Female Transgressive Writers of all time (Part 10)

  1. Amelia Opie

  2. Elfriede Jelinek

  3. Eleanor Catton

  4. Laurell K. Hamilton

  5. Jennifer Weiner

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There are many more fantastic Transgressive writers who happened to be a woman as well but I have decided to stop this series right here with Amelia Opie, Elfriede Jelinek, Eleanor Catton, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Jennifer Weiner.

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Amelia Opie

(12 November 1769 – 2 December 1853)

Amelia Opie was an English author who published numerous novels in the Romantic period up to 1828. Opie was also a leading abolitionist in Norwich, England. Hers was the first of 187,000 names presented to the British Parliament on a petition from women to stop slavery. (source)Opie spent her youth writing poetry and plays and organizing amateur theatricals. (source) Opie completed a novel in 1801 titled Father and Daughter showing genuine fancy and pathos,(source) the novel is about misled virtue and family reconciliation.

This book is about the story of Agnes Fitzhenry, whose seduction by the libertine Clifford causes her father to descend into madness. The theme is rooted in the social conditions of late 18th - 19th century Britain and I can say this novel is both an affecting narrative and a compelling social commentary. Opie’s writings normally address issues of female sexuality and the social construction of gender. For example in the first novel, Dangers of Coquetry, the story of a young woman who, while possessing many virtues, is given to coquetry.

Encouraged by her husband to continue writing, she published Adeline Mowbray, an exploration of women's education, marriage, and the abolition of slavery. This novel in particular is noted for engaging the history of Opie's former friend Mary Wollstonecraft, whose relationship with the American Gilbert Imlay outside of marriage caused some scandal, as did her later marriage to the philosopher William Godwin. (source) It may be because of Godwin's notion against marriage as an institution by which women were owned as property (source). The novel also engages abolitionist sentiment, in the story of a mixed-race woman and her family, whom Adeline saves from poverty at some expense to herself.

Yes, Mary Ann, I freely grant,
The charms of Henry's eyes I see;
But while I gaze, I something want,
I want those eyes — to gaze on me.

- Amelia Opie

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Elfriede Jelinek


Elfriede Jelinek is an Austrian playwright and novelist. She is one of the most celebrated authors writing in German today and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2004 for her "musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that, with extraordinary linguistic zeal, reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power".(source)The nature of Jelinek’s texts is often hard to define. "They shift between prose and poetry, incantation and hymn, they contain theatrical scenes and filmic sequences." (source) The primacy in her writing has however moved from novel-writing to drama.

Her first radio play, wenn die sonne sinkt ist für manche schon büroschluss, was very favourably received in 1974. She has since written a large number of pieces for radio and the theatre, in which she successively abandoned traditional dialogues for a kind of polyphonic monologues (source) What she puts on stage in plays from recent years are fewer characters than “language interfaces confronting each other.

Jelinek’s most recent published works for drama, the so-called “princess dramas” (Der Tod und das Mädchen I–V, 2003), are variations on one of the writer’s basic themes, the inability of women to fully come to life in a world where they are painted over with stereotypical images. Jelinek was a member of Austria's Communist Party from 1974 to 1991. (source) Many foreign governments moved swiftly to ostracize Austria's administration, citing the Freedom Party's alleged nationalism and authoritarianism. The cabinet construed the sanctions against it as directed against Austria as such, and attempted to prod the nation into a national rallying (Nationaler Schulterschluss) behind the coalition parties. (source) This provoked temporary heating of the political climate severe enough for dissidents such as Jelinek to be accused of treason by coalition supporters. (source)

One of my favorite novels from her which turned into a movie as well is "The Piano Teacher" in which most of the story is pleasingly transgressive in which I kept asking myself what will Erika - the female character - do next? This interesting yet problematic relationship between her and Walter changes when Walter comes off as earnest and naive, but that must have all been for the show because he ends up being a brutal rapist by the film's end. What I love about this s