Remembering and Recovering Goblin Market in Rosario Ferre’s “Pico Rico, Mandorico"
The nature of literary influence among women authors has long been a fruitful topic of discussion in feminist scholarship. Perhaps the most influential work on the subject remains Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s The Madrvoiizaiz in the Attic. Outwardly rejecting, but in many respects attempting to complement, the work of Harold Bloom in The Anxiety of Influence and A Map of Misreading, Gilbert and Gubar contend that “‘the anxiety of influence’ that a male poet experiences is felt by a female poet as an even more primary ‘anxiety of authorship’- a radical fear that she cannot create, that because she can never become a ‘precursor’ the act of writing will isolate or destroy her”. Gilbert and Gubar’s well-known thesis is that nineteenth-century &men writers employed the figure of the madwoman, who seeks to “destroy all the patriarchal structures which both their authors and their authors’ submissive heroines seem to accept as inevitable”. According to Gilbert and Gubar, nineteenth-century women writers, the creators of both madwomen and submissive heroines, consequently “dramatize their own self-division, their desire both to accept the strictures of patriarchal society and to reject them”. Long before they explore in detail what they call the “poetics of renunciation” in Christina Rossetti’s poetry and prose, Gilbert and Gubar comment that “Christina Rossetti represents her own anxiety of authorship in the split between one heroine who longs to ‘suck and suck’ on goblin fruit and another who locks her lips fiercely together in a gesture of silent and passionate renunciation”. They refer, of course, to Goblin Market, Rossetti’s best known poem. Although some of their later generalizations about Rossetti and her work may need revision, what is known about Rossetti’s life certainly suggests they are correct in describing Rossetti’s anxiety of authorship. Yet, Christina Rossetti did become a precursor for many women authors, among them contemporary Puerto Rican author Rosario Ferre.
Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, Vol. 41, No. 4, 365-379.