Visions and re-visions: Women and time in Michèle Roberts's 'In the red kitchen'.

Rosie White

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This essay argues that Michèle Roberts’ novel, In the Red Kitchen, is engaged in a similar project to that of Julia Kristeva’s essay ‘Women’s Time’. This essay understands both as attempting to grapple with Adrienne Rich’s challenge that women must reinterpret and ‘re-vision’ their own histories. Moving between Kristeva’s theoretical piece and Roberts’ fiction, the essay charts how both texts examine the slips and shifts of linear history, relating moments ‘out of time’ in the novel to Kristeva’s concept of women’s time. White proposes that historical writing in all its forms – autobiographical, biographical, fictional and factual – is partial and liable to be refracted in the light of alternative versions of the same story. In the Red Kitchen employs multiple narrative voices to indicate how historical truths can be hidden, erased and revealed. This multivalent narrative thus makes apparent the ways in which women’s history is ultimately and inevitably various, if only because of the range of women’s experience. This essay, like White’s article for Studies in the Literary Imagination, adds to a growing body of work on Roberts’ writing. Roberts belongs to a generation of contemporary British women writers in danger of being ignored or forgotten by literary academia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-191
JournalWomen: A Cultural Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004

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