by Drusilla Modjeska
Angus & Robertson, $16.95 pb
Jane Gallop has explored the often-bitter rivalry between sisters for the love of the father, and increasingly, for self/love.
Helena Michie, ‘Not One of the Family’
Marianne, now looking dreadfully white, and unable to stand, sunk into her chair, and Elinor, expecting every moment to see her faint, tried to screen her from the observation of others, while reviving her with lavender water.
Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
A few years ago, there was a great song on the radio, a song about remembering riding with an assortment of brothers and sisters in the back seat of the car. I don’t even recall the name of the song, much less the name of the band, but there was a line in the chorus that used to wipe me out: ‘And we all have our daddy’s eyes.’
In those inherited and shared resemblances. a sibling is a perennially deranging presence, a reminder that the boundary between self and other is by no means as clear as our culture would have us assume. Women already know this better than men. Women’s bodies participate in other bodies, can feed, breed, and accommodate them; theory and experience as well as analogy suggest that women’s ego boundaries are correspondingly less fixed. (‘As they used to in our childhood houses,’ says Beth Yahp, ‘people in London can tell we are sisters by our shadows’.)