Female Ageing: Revising Reifungsroman in Doris Lessing's The Summer Before the Dark and Love, Again
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The ageing process is usually perceived as a time of loss and decline, especially for women. The first signs of ageing are shown in the external body. In Western societies, wrinkles, white hair, impending falling jaws and limbs are seen, both by ageing women themselves and by their communities, as a straight and unstoppable road into invisibility that will end up in social exclusion. This is the first reaction the main female characters in Doris Lessing's The Summer Before the Dark (1973) and Love, Again (1996) experiment when they scrutinise their faces and bodies in front of the mirror and fail to recognise them as their real ones, the ones that defined them in their youth, just a few years ago. Parting from Barbara Frey Waxman's concept of Reifungsroman (1988), this paper intends to analyse how the female protagonists in Doris Lessing's The Summer Before the Dark and Love, Again perceive the changes going on inside them as their bodies are increasingly losing the virtues of youth and how they come to terms with those changes and succeed in undermining cultural conceptions of ageing in women.