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Schmukler, A.G. (1990). American Imago. XLV, 1988: Alice James: "Neither Dead Nor Recovered." Mary Cappello. Pp. 127-162.. Psychoanal Q., 59:516.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XLV, 1988: Alice James: "Neither Dead Nor Recovered." Mary Cappello. Pp. 127-162.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:516

American Imago. XLV, 1988: Alice James: "Neither Dead Nor Recovered." Mary Cappello. Pp. 127-162.

Anita G. Schmukler

Cappello examines various modes of self-definition of women writers, particularly with respect to Alice James, as represented in her letters, the Diary, and the biography by Jean Strouse. Hysteria, in its many forms, and somatic illness as well, may represent a compromise between conflictual wishes, but they are clearly a greater factor in concealing than in revealing the attributes of the afflicted. Two questions are raised regarding the contributions of women to twentieth-century English-language literature. Can a woman "do the new things with words that her self-expression calls for without getting ill or being perceived as ill," and can she "make the necessary aesthetic gesture that compels her toward a new position in the community, in language, and stay alive." After all, Cappello points out, it was a woman who enacted and named the "talking cure." While most members of the James family occupied the sickroom with a series of psychosomatic complaints, Alice was the only one who could engage in this "as a profession." Alice's mother, who remained healthy, had an enduring bond with a live-in aunt, Kate. Their relation, which may have protected Mary James from illness, also allowed her to be less available to Alice. The compromise formation which the hysteric demonstrates symbolically in a symptom is expressed by the writer/poet in an enduring communication. It is the relation between these two forms of expression in gifted women whose work has been not listened to, not heard, that is the subject of Cappello's study.

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Article Citation

Schmukler, A.G. (1990). American Imago. XLV, 1988. Psychoanal. Q., 59:516

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