Emma Tennant Biography
(1937– ), Bananas, The Time of the Crack, The Crack, The Last of the Country House Murders
British novelist, born in London, educated at St Paul's Girls' School. In 1975 she founded and edited the experimental literary magazine Bananas. Her novels include The Time of the Crack (1973; republished as The Crack, 1978), an apocalyptic fantasy; The Last of the Country House Murders (1974), a surreal detective story; Hotel de Dream (1976), in which the waking lives of the lodgers at a seedy boarding-house are increasingly taken over by their dreams; The Bad Sister (1978), in which a young woman surrenders her identity to her murderous alter ego; and Two Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms Jekyll and Mrs Hyde (1989), a surreal murder story involving changes of identity. Tennant's work is blackly comic in mood, favouring bizarre events and extremes of human behaviour, and is generally described as magic realist. The House of Hospitalities (1987) and A Wedding of Cousins (1988) are the first two volumes of a projected sequence entitled ‘The Cycle of the Sun’ following the fortunes of Jenny Carter, an impoverished upper-middle-class protagonist with a penchant for bohemian aristocrats. Among her other novels are Wild Nights (1979), Alice Fell (1980), Queen of Stones (1982), Woman Beware Woman (1983), Black Marina (1985), The Adventures of Robina by Herself (1986), and Sisters and Strangers (1990). Tennant's later work has focused on the rewriting and reworking of classical texts—fables, legends, and novels—from a feminist perspective. Her strategies range from pastiche of canonical women writers such as Jane Austen in Pemberly—A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice (1993) and An Unequal Marriage—Pride and Prejudice Continued (1994), to the feminization of myth in Faustine (1991). Tess (1993) locates, around the figure of Hardy's heroine, a series of other characters of the author's period, historical and semi-fictional, to provide a feminist interpretation of the story.
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