And God Created Woman: B. S. Johnson as writer of “feminist” metafiction
English Literature/Comparative Literature
Year of study:
In a now-iconic parody of film noir, a cartoon Jessica Rabbit turns seductively to a male private detective and says “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” To the viewer of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, is this critiquing, or gleefully inscribing the male gaze?
The metafictional writing of B.S. Johnson poses the same question. In his novel Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry, he depicts a godlike narrator controlling the fictional world and parodically colluding with the male protagonist and reader in the objectification of the female characters. Yet Johnson’s representation of women has largely been read in a literal way – as either straightforwardly misogynistic or symptomatic of the modern human condition.
I provide a context for re-thinking the gender politics and critical reception of B.S. Johnson’s work. I argue that Johnson’s work would gain to be read as feminist metafiction – fiction which challenges, by denaturalizing them, patriarchal modes of representation.
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