To the Lighthouse Revisited: The Art Economy in Mary Gordon's Spending
8 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 2016
This essay explores Virginia Woolf’s legacy to Mary Gordon’s Spending. More than a response to Woolf’s vision of a monetary gift to facilitate woman’s creativity, Gordon’s novel also engages To the Lighthouse in its representation of a woman painter coming to terms with her talent. Equally important, however, is the difference between the two works, as unhappiness about her lost possibilities marks the heroine’s artistic impasse in Woolf’s novel, whereas pleasure over extravagant gifts characterizes the female protagonist’s progress toward success in Gordon’s text. By re-visioning Woolf’s female artist in want in 1910s–1920s England into a woman painter in plenitude in 1990s consumerist America, Gordon’s happiness narrative delineates the possibility opened up by her unhappy predecessor. This article is published as part of a collection on gender studies.
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