Saturday, 13 February 2016

Pronoun (February)

In 1945, when Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen proposed “The novelist’s perceptions of his characters take place in the course of the actual writing of the novel,” she said this without any sense that novelists were all men. The masculine pronoun was normative in discourse. That February her concerns were other than whether English is implicitly complicit in patriarchy. Inclusive language woke us to the assumptions of gender imbalance. Now writers go to exorbitant lengths with pronouns to avoid sexism accusations. Welsh mystic Rowan Williams resolves this dilemma by regularly using the feminine, “The novelist’s perceptions of her characters take place…”

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