Eva Figes Biography
(1932– ), Equinox, Winter Journey, Light, The Seven Ages, Ghosts, The Tree of Knowledge, The Tenancy
British novelist and cultural critic, born in Berlin; her family moved to England in 1939. She was educated at Queen Mary College, University of London, and has worked as an editor for a number of publishers. Her novels focus on the subjective consciousness and show acute sensitivity to historical realities, and a debt to Kafka. In her rejection of external realism, Figes explains that ‘The English social realist tradition cannot contain the realities of my lifetime, horrors which one might have called surreal if they had not actually happened’. The novels tend to be short, intensely poetic, and include Equinox (1966), her first novel; Winter Journey (1967); Light (1983), a portrait of a painter who searches for perfection in the midst of transience; The Seven Ages (1986), about women throughout history; Ghosts (1988), which treats time as a spectral phenomenon; The Tree of Knowledge (1990), a feminist version of the myth of Eden; The Tenancy (1993), a parable of urban disintegration set in a deteriorating house, where women struggle against various forms of intimidation; and The Knot (1996). As a feminist cultural critic, Figes's works include Patriarchal Attitudes: Women in Society (1970) and Sex and Subterfuge: Women Novelists to 1850 (1982). She has edited Women's Letters in Wartime: 1450–1945 (1993), a feminist anthology.