The felicitous space of Elizabeth von Arnim.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis focuses on an ensemble of the writings of Elizabeth von Arnim which, when examined intratextually as well as intertextually, reveals an interanimation of her life with her text: this includes her life as lived; her life as imagined and her life as written. The thesis shows how these distinctions collapse in her writing. The literary theoretical concept of "the author as dead" is therefore limited, in this case, within the context of the interanimation and the perceived trajectory of self definition that it forms out of Elizabeth von Arnim's writing. The importance of Elizabeth von Arnim as Author will be argued as having significant implications towards her life long quest for felicity and, more specifically, female-centred, felicitous space. The interanimation of the three distinctions involving her life and text is explored within the context of Elizabeth von Arnim's major thematic concern: that of female-centred space. The thesis compares and contrasts the ability of Elizabeth von Arnim, together with her female protagonists, to create, protect, and maintain female-centred space. While Elizabeth von Arnim is popularly known as a romance writer, this thesis explores and reveals her work to be a deliberate and consistent ironic subversion of patriarchal institutions and their ideologies, including the social construction and ideology of romantic love that was central and embedded in Elizabeth von Arnim' s culture and affirmed in the romance genre.