Dressing and addressing the self: Jean Rhys, Jamaica Kincaid and the cultural politics of self-fashioning

Decaires Narain, Denise (2020) Dressing and addressing the self: Jean Rhys, Jamaica Kincaid and the cultural politics of self-fashioning. In: Lopoukhine, Juliana, Regard, Frédéric and Wallart, Kerry-Jane (eds.) Transnational Jean Rhys: lines of transmission, lines of flight. Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 9781501361319

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Abstract

This essay explores Rhys and Kincaid’s shared interest in clothing, arguing that for both writers dressing and the performativity associated with it, are crucial to their respective engagements with self-making. Via close readings of Jean Rhys’s ‘Smile Please’ and Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Biography of a Dress,’ I foreground the centrality of dress to their perception of their younger selves and to their reflections on themselves as writers. Shifting to a discussion of Jean Rhys’s ‘Let Them Call it Jazz’, the essay considers the intriguing ways that Rhys mediates her own experience of incarceration through the somewhat flamboyant performativity of her protagonist, Selina. By way of conclusion, the essay turns to Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Putting Myself Together,’ in which she documents her attempts at self-fashioning as a young woman and would-be writer, foregrounding the resonances with Rhys’s work. Rhys and Kincaid’s engagement with dressing as a crucial dimension of self-making implies that it is a never-ending, painful, playful and laborious process of recovery and discovery, of expression and invention.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2020 11:20
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2020 13:48
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/90192

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