Matriarchal Desire and Ethical Relation
The novelists we will examine in the following pages of this book are the matriarchs of British fiction. As such, they bear comparison to the matriarchs of biblical narrative, mothers of a primarily patriarchal world whose voices have been obscured by time and tradition. Like the biblical matriarchs, the women novelists have left traces of their existences and echoes of their voices. Their sounds, their words, and even their silences document longings and desires which are both temporal and eternal, both sensual and spiritual, both ethical and beyond ethics. To hear and understand, we have to be open to their otherness, responsive to their demands, accepting of our own obligation to listen and to attend. Most importantly, we need to admit the possibility that these women of the past can teach us something we do not already know.