The egotism that fuels the desire for greatness has been associated exclusively with men, according to one feminist view; yet many women cannot suppress the need to strive for greatness. In this forceful and compelling book, Alison Booth traces through the novels, essays, and other writings of George Eliot and Virginia Woolf radically conflicting attitudes on the part of each toward the possibility of feminine greatness. Examining the achievements of Eliot and Woolf in their social contexts, she provides a challenging model of feminist historical criticism.
"Booth successfully demonstrates how Eliot and Woolf challenged gender prescriptions by the very act of writing history as well as by the kind of history they wrote. She is careful to point out that Eliot and Woolf were not the first to shift the focus of history to common life, but she persuasively argues that they pushed it further by explicitly addressing what patriarchal discourses had silenced or obscured: the issue of gender and historical interpretation."
"Greatness Engendered takes its place appropriately in Cornell’s Reading Women Writing series. It provides a useful examination of how two major authors both read and wrote the problem of greatness."
South Atlantic Review