Psyche’s Daughter of Today: Sara Jeannette Duncan and the New Woman
Keywords:Sara Jeannette Duncan, New Woman, Psyche, Canadian fiction
The Canadian novelist Sara Jeannette Duncan (1861-1922) constructed a New Woman heroine in the fin-de- siecle novel; A Daughter of Today (1894). Written in the popular mode of the transatlantic novel; the work engages in debate on the appropriate construction of femininity in art and public life. The heroine; Elfrida Bell; descends from artist; to muse; to model; to painted image—a descent framed by a rival male artist and a hostile London art scene. Represented as Psyche; the heroine undergoes a quest and failure similar to the mythical one. Adaptation of the Psyche myth clarifies the position of Duncan in the spectrum of gender ideologies of the fin-de- siecle.
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