Voicing the Self
Female Identity and Language in Lee Smith’s Fiction
This book examines the ways in which Lee Smith has given voice to all the aspects of her experience as both a woman artist living in contemporary America and a native of Appalachia, a Southern region still maintaining a strong sense of oral tradition and community bond. Smith revises and subverts the language and the myths that have conditioned her identity seekers and silenced their voices. In so doing, she explores the relationship between female heroism and women’s creativity as different from that of males. In their struggle for autonomy within coercing domains of family and community, Smith’s female heroes reflect the writer’s personal and artistic development. The conflicting relationship of her female characters with their self-assertion and with the Appalachian world reveals Smith’s own ambivalent feelings towards the concept of individuality and towards her cultural roots.