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Streaks of Life: The Introduction and Translation of a Passage from the Autobiography of Ethel Smyth

In the translated passage, taken from the autobiography of Ethel Smyth, Streaks of Life, the author writes about the position of women in music, her own position—that of a female composer in the early 20th century England. The author speaks of terror and the patronizing diction of patriarchal society. She continues with a critique of media representations, but mostly focuses on difficulties in the attempts to place one’s (woman’s) artwork in public space. Despite the fact that she was romantically involved with women throughout her life and wrote about them in her other autobiographical texts, she refuses to connect lesbian identity with her work—perhaps the reason lies in the ‘safety’ of being in a closet, or because of her perceived irrelevance of lesbian identities towards artist’s output. What she emphasizes more is a woman’s perspective—reasonably so, since she was deeply involved with the suffrage movement. In her descriptions, she considers economic and political contexts of the First World War era, which gave the opportunity of holding a (temporary) job for women—both in factories and in orchestras. At the end, she returns to specifics of women’s position in society, and calls for a rebellion against the tyranny of the patriarchy.


Article inside journal

Issue No. 261 - City of Women / Concealed Histories II
Časopis za kritiko znanosti
2015 , volume volume 43 , issue issue 261
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