chapter  19
15 Pages

Writing women: writing woman

Sarah Grand's The Beth Book offers one of the most sustained representations of the sensibility of the woman artist. The childhood and adolescence of Grand's heroine, Beth, comprise a kind of portrait of an artist as a young woman. Much of the earlier part of the novel focuses on the minute details of the myriad sense impressions that constitute the history of Beth's coming to self-consciousness, as she emerges from being 'as unconscious as a white grub without legs' (BB:10) into an awareness of self and of her relationship to, and separateness from, the world she inhabits. Many of the passages which involve this process function as both representations of the character's consciousness, and celebrations of the writer's selfconsciousness. The language of these passages is frequently in excess of the demands of the mere portrayal of character; writing itself is foregrounded.