ABSTRACT. Several critics have discussed victim dynamics in the stories of illegitimate women writers in Western cultures, but a significant group of extraordinarily powerful women (who were also writers) have been illegitimate. History offers few examples of women from any parentage who have gained the public renown and political influence of the three whose lives and writings Kraus examines in this study: Flora Tristan, Clare Boothe Luce, and Eva Peron. Kraus theorizes that these daughters, who grew up in households dominated by single mothers, may not have internalized the traditional structures of gender and power that might be expected to crush a woman’s ambitions. If there is only a mother, she must represent both power and authority, at least until the child is old enough to recognize the dynamics of patriarchy in a larger societal context. If so, it should not be surprising that the illegitimate women considered in this study perceive themselves as free agents, uncontrollable by the patriarchal discourse because they live outside it, maybe don’t know it as “real.” pp. 9–42

Keywords: illegitimacy, sublimation, Lacan, Eva Peron, Clare Boothe Luce, Flora Tristan

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