The Ladies and Mammies: Jane Austen and Jean Rhys - Selma JamesBristol: Falling Wall Press, 1983, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Gift inscription to the first blank.
From the cover: “The first part of this book is about Jane Austen. Part II centres on Jean Rhys’s masterpiece, Wide Sargasso Sea. The mad West Indian wife of Rochester in Jane Eyre becomes her heroine. Selma James traces a continuum between the life for women in Jane Austen’s Great House of the early nineteenth century and Jean Rhys in the mid-twentieth century exploring its history and its effects in shaping women’s lives today.
While Ms. Austen wrote about the ladies, Ms. Rhys, a West Indian, set herself the task of finding her relationship as one of the ‘white ladies’ to the Black mammies who served them and nursed their children. Through her, Ms. Austen’s themes are made fully international.
The book concludes with this quotation from Margaret Prescod, another West Indian: We’ve never forgotten what we knew about the ladies when we were cleaning their houses or in slavery. Because we were clearly identified as mammies, they were coming to as for advice about how to deal with their situation, and quite often we had to hold them together. So we’re rejecting the lady image and rejecting the mammy image, and the ladies and the mammies are coming together.”