Today, more than ever, the prevalence of female voices in our society is crucial. As Modernism, in general, prioritizes the work of literary and artistic revolutionaries, more traditional works — along with writers who have not survived the gnawing of time — have been left in the depths. There, many women writers dustily rest below wafting high Modernists, like Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce.
The corpus’ of some notable Modernist women writers hold double (or more!) writing than that of some high Modernists. While this does not ensure that more writing equates to a better product, some women works simply lack the attention they are deserving of.
When discussing Modernist stylistic techniques, it is assured that talk of the stream-of-consciousness will arise. Yet, is it mentioned who coined the term “stream-of-consciousness,” or which novel was initially said to encompass this technique? May Sinclair first used the phrase in The Egoist when writing about Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage books. Pilgrimage is the title of a series, comprised of 13 books, in which Richardson considered each book to be chapters. The first chapter/novel of Pilgrimage, Pointed Roofs (pub. 1915), predates Ulysses, Mrs. Dalloway, and The Sound and the Fury by seven or more years.
Elizabeth Podnieks similarly writes of Richardson’s undeserved obscurity in a 1994 piece found in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies. Podnieks speaks of Richardson’s popularity in her time, and of other Modernists that praised Richardson’s work, such as Virginia Woolf, Ford Madox Ford, and John Cowper Powys. Podnieks claims “that Pilgrimage was not so much unknown as disliked; not so much ignored as misunderstood.”
Maybe “misunderstood” better describes the obstacles these women faced. Read more about May Sinclair, Dorothy Richardson, and 8 other Modernist women writers (click on the below posting):