chapter  Chapter Five
35 Pages

Midlife in Literature

WithLinda E. Chown

A abundance of books on midlife or middle age verifies Estelle Fuchs’ prediction that the topic should soon become fashionable. Midlife calls upon women to examine what future living could be and face the fact that change and death are, unfortunately, inescapable. Many times, for women, midlife may entail both the completion of adolescence, often prematurely interrupted, and entrance into middle-age. Unless understanding is grounded in “public” and “private” activities, women’s life in middle age will be needlessly lopsided and limited, as one finds true in a survey of the theme in Western literature. The specific subject of older women in literature is even more elusive and difficult. Perceived split between inner and outer, tangible and intangible behavior or realms, generated in literary discourse in the 1920’s and 1930’s the idea that the artist passively receives impressions from without. Midlife for women is really about giving up the need to look exclusively outwards for approval.