Self-Effacement Revisited

George Levine

in Dying to Know

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780226475363
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226475387 | DOI:
Self-Effacement Revisited

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  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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This chapter addresses the “masculinity” or “femininity”to particular modes of thinking and action to be reflections of other writers' views. Women writing about themselves often reaffirm the mythology, but more often make it seem merely silly. The texture of the women's autobiographies tends to be somewhat different from that of the men. The woman's path to male vocation deepens the implications of the dying-to-know narrative. Autobiographies of Mary Somerville, Harriet Martineau, and Beatrice Webb are concerned to avoid making the religious, moral, or social objective determine their scientific knowledge. They had to fulfill the ideals of science as thoroughly as the men and with far more distractions. The irony of women's exclusion from the practice of science in the nineteenth century is intensified by the autobiographies presented.

Keywords: femininity; masculinity; women writing; Mary Somerville; Harriet Martineau; Beatrice Webb; scientific knowledge; autobiographies

Chapter.  9791 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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