The Geography of Jean Rhys: The Impact of National Identity upon the Exiled Female Author

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Philp, Alexandra
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Critical considerations of Jean Rhys’ texts are often intent on geopolitically ‘placing’ the female author. Feeling exiled from her birth country of Dominica and her resident country of England, Rhys felt as if she ‘had no country really now’ (Rhys 1984, 172). National identity seems to have impact upon both public and private practices of Rhys’ authorship. A lack of national identity implies that Rhys is placeless; a concept which is further problematised when considered under Virginia Woolf’s arguments in A Room of One’s Own (1929). If Rhys does not have country, how can she have a private space from which to write? For an exiled female author, private space is an issue pertinent to studies of her authorship. Through the frameworks of A Room of One’s Own and Hélène Cixous’ concept of ‘country in language’, this article demonstrates that Jean Rhys may use her writing practice as an imagined place in which to search for home. For the exiled female author, the textualisation of place and her identity as ‘author’ is an alternative dwelling space.
Expatriates, Female authors, Jean Rhys, Nationality