Ghostly Visitations in Contemporary Short Fiction by Women: Fay Weldon, Janice Galloway and Ali Smith
From the late nineteenth century onwards the genre of the ghost short story has served as a vehicle for the exploration of female concerns. Women’s ghost narratives feature heroines haunted by spectral apparitions that give expression to the characters’ inner tensions with their assumption of socially sanctioned female roles. This essay reads three stories, by Fay Weldon, Janice Galloway and Ali Smith, to show how the potential of the genre to question the norm and to give shape to personal, intergenerational and historical conflicts continues to be deployed by contemporary women writers. As in the stories of their female predecessors, the effects of the literary ghost’s disturbing liminality vary in each of the cases under consideration here. Thus, the apparition in Weldon’s “A Good Sound Marriage” (1991) works as a contested mouthpiece of traditional sexual ideology, the oneiric revenant in Galloway’s “it was” (1991) is the figuration of unconscious desire, while the doppelgänger in Smith’s “The Hanging Girl” (1999), despite her spectrality, inhabits a less empty and more amiable world than that of real flesh-and-blood people.
Keywords: ghost story; short story; women’s writing; Fay Weldon; Janice Galloway; Ali Smith
Abao, Frances Jane P. 2013. “‘Ghostwriting’: An Introduction to Ghost Stories by Women.” Review of Women’s Studies 21 (1): 90-97.
Becker, Susanne. 1999. Gothic Forms of Feminine Fictions. Manchester: Manchester UP.
Bertens, Hans. 1996. “The Sociology of Postmodernity.” In International Postmodernism: Theory and Literary Practice, edited by Hans Bertens and Douwe Fokkema, 103-118. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Briggs, Julia. 1977. Night Visitors: The Rise and Fall of the English Short Story. London: Faber and Faber.
—. 2012. “The Ghost Story.” In A New Companion to the Gothic, edited by David Punter, 176-185. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.
Clark, Richard. 2015. Capital Punishment UK The Resource Site for the History of Death Penalty in Britain [Accessed online on October 17, 2016].
Clery, E. J. 2004. Women’s Gothic: From Clara Reeve to Mary Shelley. 2nd ed. Devon: Northcote.
Cox, Michael and R. A. Gilbert. 1986. “Introduction.” In The Oxford Book of English Short Stories, edited by Michael Cox and R. A. Gilbert, ix-xviii. Oxford: Oxford UP.
—. 1991. “Introduction.” In The Oxford Book of Victorian Short Stories, edited by Michael Cox and R. A. Gilbert, ix-xx. Oxford: Oxford UP.
Dowling, Finuala. 1998. Fay Weldon’s Fiction. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses.
Eagleton, Terry. 1994. “Introduction.” In Ideology, edited by Terry Eagleton, 1-20. London: Longman.
Ellis, Kate Ferguson. 2000. “Can You Forgive Her? The Gothic Heroine and Her
Critics.” In A Companion to the Gothic, edited by David Punter, 257-268. Oxford: Blackwell.
Evans, Dylan. 1996. An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge.
Fitzgerald, Lauren. (2004) 2009. “Female Gothic and the Institutionalisation of
Gothic Studies.” In The Female Gothic: New Directions, edited by Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith, 12-25. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Fleenor, Juliann. 1983. “Introduction.” The Female Gothic, edited by Juliann Fleenor, 3-28. Montreal: Eden.
Freud, Sigmund. (1899) 1995a. The Interpretation of Dreams. In The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, translated and edited by A. A. Brill, 147-517. New York: The Modern Library.
—. (1903) 1995b. Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex. In The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, translated and edited by A. A. Brill, 519-597. New York: The Modern Library.
Galloway, Janice. (1991a) 2009. “it was.” In Collected Stories, 32-35. London: Vintage.
—. (1991b) 2009. “Scenes from the Life No. 27: Living In.” In Collected Stories, 116-123. London: Vintage.
Gardiner, Michael. 2010. “Body and State in Spark’s Early Fiction.” In The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark, edited by Michael Gardiner and Willy Malley, 27-39. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.
Germanà, Monica and Emily Hornton. 2013. “Introduction.” In Ali Smith:
Contemporary Critical Perspectives, edited by Monica Germanà and Emily Hornton, 1-8. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Hansen, Elaine Tuttle. 1997. Mother without Child: Contemporary Fiction and the Crisis of Motherhood. Berkeley, CA: U of California P.
Heining, Peter, ed. 1998. The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories. London: Robinson.
Hoeveler, Diane Long. 1998. Gothic Feminism: The Professionalization of Gender from Charlotte Smith to the Brontës. University Park, PA: U of Pennsylvania P.
Hornton, Emily. 2013. “Contemporary Space and Affective Ethics in Ali Smith’s
Short Stories.” In Ali Smith: Contemporary Critical Perspectives, edited by Monica Germanà and Emily Hornton, 9-22. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Internet Speculative Fiction Database. 2015. [Accessed online on October 17, 2016].
Kotskowska, Justyna. 2013. Ecocriticism and Women Writers: Environmentalist Poetics of Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson, and Ali Smith. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave.
Lacan, Jacques. (1964) 1998. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XI: The Four
Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller and translated by Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton.
—. (1966) 2006. “The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire in the Freudian Unconscious.” Écrits, translated by Bruce Fink, 671-702. New York: Norton.
Levin, Stephen M. 2013. “Narrating Remainders: Spectral Presences in Ali Smith’s Fiction.” In Ali Smith: Contemporary Critical Perspectives, edited by Monica Germanà and Emily Hornton, 34-47. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Maylath, Tracy. 2014. “The Ache in Ali Smith’s Short Stories.” Thresholds: Home of the International Short Story Forum. [Accessed online on October 13, 2015].
McHale, Brian. 1987. Postmodernist Fiction. London: Routledge.
Moers, Ellen. (1976) 1978. Literary Women. Reprint, London: The Women’s Press.
Moody, Nickianne. 1996. “Visible Margins: Women Writers and the English Ghost Story.” In Image and Power: Women in Fiction in the Twentieth Century, edited by Sarah Sceats and Gail Cunningham, 77-90. London: Longman.
Paccaud-Huguet, Josiane. 2004. “Breaking through Cracked Mirrors: The Short
Stories of Janice Galloway.” In Exchanges: Reading Galloway’s Fictions, edited by Linda Jackson, 55-78. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Review.
Sage, Victor. 2011. “‘The Grail, or the Holy Bloodshed . . .’: Cruelty, Darkness and the Body in Janice Galloway, Alison Kennedy and Louise Welsh.” Gothic Studies 13 (2): 63-77.
Sánchez García, Celina. 2012. “Coming to Terms with Postmodern Artificiality:
Reassessing Nature in Ali Smith’s The Whole Story and Other Stories.” In Moving across a Century: Women’s Short Fiction from Virginia Woolf to Ali Smith, edited by Laura Lojo Rodríguez, 111-124. Bern: Peter Lang.
Sienkiewicz-Charlish, Agnieszka. 2011. “Double Identities: The Theme of the
Double in Contemporary Scottish Gothic.” In The Supernatural, the Fantastic and the Oneiric, edited by Piotr Spyra and Agata Wachowska, 79-86. Łodź: Biblioteka.
Smith, Ali. 1999. “The Hanging Girl.” In Other Stories and other stories, 15-35. London: Granta Books.
—. 2009. “Short Story Report: The Bridport Prize 2009.” The Bridport Prize. [Accessed online on October 17, 2016].
The Short Review. 2010. “Interview with Janice Galloway.” [Accessed online on October 17, 2016].
van Leeuven, Fredericke. 1982. “Female Gothic: The Discourse of the Other.” Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 4: 33-44.
Wallace, Diana. 2009. “‘The Haunting Idea’: Female Gothic Metaphors and Feminist Theory.” In Female Gothic: New Directions, edited by Diana Wallace and Andrew Smith, 26-40. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Weldon, Fay. (1991) 1995. “A Good Sound Marriage.” In Wicked Women, 195-204. New York. Atlantic Monthly P.
—. (1992) 1995. “Through a Dustbin, Darkly.” In Wicked Women, 183-194. New York. Atlantic Monthly P.
Welsh, Louise. 2015. “Introduction.” Ghost: 100 Stories to Read with the Lights On, edited by Louise Welsh, i-ix. London: Head of Zeus.
- There are currently no refbacks.
Atlantis. Journal of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies
ISSN: 0210-6124 | e-ISSN: 1989-6840. © Atlantis/Aedean 2013.
Contact | Privacy Statement | Copyright notice | Journal Help| Site Map