In Talking to Women, Nell Dunn puts her finger on one of the most important, but least-intelligently aired, social problems of the post-war era: the position of women in society. Somebody once pointed out that the emancipation of women would have taken place after they got the vote, but for women’s magazines: women today expect more from life than childbearing and housekeeping, though on the other hand they cannot fulfill themselves entirely by writing novels, painting pictures or pursuing careers as men do.
Many women find it difficult to meet the dual roles adequately and it is on this topic, and others, such as sexual fulfillment in and outside marriage, morality, and more or less intimate subjects, that the nine women included in this book talk to Nell Dunn. Some, like Edna O’Brien and Ann Quin, are writers, others are painters or actresses. One is a working mother, and another, Frances Chadwicke, is dead.
The book is not a heavy sociological treatise; these women talk the language of the sixties and their speech rhythms are faithfully recorded. In conveying the looseness, the paucity almost, of the spoken word today, the contributors reveal contemporary life more fully because they are speaking in the intimate, informal manner that Nell Dunn has encouraged.
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