The article engages with "alternative selves," a concept found in The Stone Carvers by a Canadian writer, Jane Urquhart. Her fiction is first seen in the context of selected texts by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Margaret Laurence and Alice Munro, who explore the clash between female characters' conventional roles and their "secret" selves. My analysis was inspired by Pamela Sue Anderson's A Feminist Philosophy of Religion, which stresses the need for "reinventing ourselves as other" in the face of biased beliefs and dominant epistemology. In particular, my article refers to Anderson's concern with Kant's imaginary from The Critique of Pure Reason, where "the territory of pure understanding" is projected on the island, while desire, chaos and death are identified with the sea. Seen through the prism of a feminist reading of the philosophical imaginary, the sea becomes the female beyond. Urquhart's three novels: Away, The Stone Carvers and A Map of Glass dissolve the opposition between Kantian island and water, by showing how reason is invaded by desire and death, and how the female protagonist embodies the elements that have been repressed. Urquhart's fiction, which is "landscape driven," provides the image of a dynamic relationship between the qualities that form a static binary opposition in Kantian discourse. Mary in Away, Klara in The Stone Carvers and Sylvia in A Map of Glass all subvert the dominant epistemology by following their desire, which becomes "a positive energy" and not "a deviation from a good rational norm," to refer to another concept by Anderson. Urquhart's Mary, Klara and Sylvia have to contend with power vested in collective beliefs and stereotypical construction of femininity. By venturing into the liminal zone beyond the territory of "pure understanding," the three protagonists regain their voices and discover their authority. The article ends with the analysis of a Homeric intertext in A Map of Glass, where Sylvia identifies with Odysseus "lashed to mast" so that he would not respond to the call of the siren song. Reading Homer's passage on the siren song, one realizes that the use of the Kantian imaginary turns Ithaca into the island of truth, and the sea into the stormy beyond, identified with desire, death and femaleness. While the Odyssey suppresses the dangerous message of the siren song, Urquhart's fiction rewrites it and reclaims it as positive inspiration for the female protagonist.
Arts and Humanities | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Anderson, Pamela Sue. "‘Abjection … the Most Propitious Place for Communication’: Celebrating the Death of the Unitary Subject." Bodies Lives Voices: Gender in Theology. Ed. Kathleen O'Grady Ann L. Gilroy and Jeanette Gray. Shieffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1998. 209-30.
Anderson, Pamela Sue. A Feminist Philosophy of Religion. Oxford: Blackwell 1998.
Atwood, Margaret. Letter to Margaret Laurence 18 Jan. 1971. York University Archives and Special Collections. Call No. 1980-001/001(43).
Branach-Kallas, Anna. "Gothic Palimpsests: Exploring Multiple Forms of Haunting in Jane Urquhart's Fiction." Bringing Landscape Home in the Writings of Jane Urquhart. Ed. Dorota Filipczak and Agata Handley. Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego 2010. 37-51.
Branach-Kallas, Anna. In the Whirlpool of the Past: Memory Intertextuality and History in the Fiction of Jane Urquhart. Toruń: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika 2003.
Carlyle, Norma Clarke. Ambitious Heights: Writing Friendship Love: the Jewsbury Sisters Felicia Hemans and Jane Welsh. London: Routledge 1990.
Compton, Anne. "Romancing the Landscape. Jane Urquhart's Fiction." Jane Urquhart: Essays on Her Works. Ed. Laura Ferri. Toronto: Guernica 2005. 115-46.
Doherty, Lillian Eileen. "Sirens Muses and Female Narrators in the Odyssey." The Distaff Side: Representing the Female in Homer's Odyssey. Ed. Beth Cohen. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press 1995. 81-92.
Doherty, Lillian Eileen. Siren Songs: Gender Audiences and Narrators in the Odyssey. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 1995.
Edelson, Maria. "‘The story will take her wherever it wants to go’: Narrative and Landscape in Away." Bringing Landscape Home in the Writings of Jane Urquhart. Ed. Dorota Filipczak and Agata Handley. Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego 2010. 63-74.
Filipczak, Dorota. Unheroic Heroines: The Portrayal of Women in the Writings of Margaret Laurence. Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego 2007.
Filipczak, Dorota. "The Valley of the Shadow of Death:" Biblical Intertext in Malcolm Lowry's Fiction. Ed. Paul Tiessen. Malcolm Lowry Review 43-44 (Fall 1998-Spring 1999).
Findley, Timothy. "Through the Looking Glass." Books in Canada June-July 1987. 14.
Goszczyńska, Marta. "Cursed Islands of Solitude: ‘The Lady of Shalott’ in Jane Urquhart's A Map of Glass." Bringing Landscape Home in the Writings of Jane Urquhart. Ed. Dorota Filipczak and Agata Handley. Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego 2010. 93-105.
Hammill, Faye. Literary Culture and Female Authorship in Canada 1760-2000. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi 2003.
Joyce, James. "The Dead." Dubliners. London: Penguin 1996. 199-256.
Laurence, Margaret. Dance on the Earth: A Memoir. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart 1998.
Miskolcze, Robin. Women and Children First: Nineteenth-Century Sea Narratives and American Identity. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 2008.
Montgomery, Lucy Maud. After Green Gables: L. M. Montgomery's Letters to Ephraim Weber 1916-1941. Ed. Hildi Froese Tiessen and Paul Tiessen. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2006.
Munro, Alice. Lives of Girls and Women. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart 1990.
Reiss, Hans Siegbert. Kant: Political Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1991.
Ricciardi, Caterina. "Away and the Meaning of Colonization." Jane Urquhart: Essays on Her Works. Ed. Laura Ferri. Toronto: Guernica 2005. 65-77.
Rigelhof, T. F. "Stone Dazzling: The Stone Carvers." Jane Urquhart: Essays on Her Works. Ed. Laura Ferri. Toronto: Guernica 2005. 51-56.
Rzepa, Agnieszka. Feats and Defeats: Spaces of Canadian Magic Realism. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza 2009.
Urquhart, Jane. Away. London: Bloomsbury 2002.
Urquhart, Jane. A Map of Glass. San Francisco: MacAdam/Cage 2006.
Urquhart, Jane. The Stone Carvers. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart 2001.
Vincent, Alana. "Making Memory Solid: Body Landscape and Identity in the Canadian National Vimy Memorial and Jane Urquhart's The Stone Carvers." Bringing Landscape Home in the Writings of Jane Urquhart. Ed. Dorota Filipczak and Agata Handley. Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego 2010. 75-86.