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By Nancy K. Miller

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My Latin is a pale trace of knowledge. (When I took the Latin exam in graduate school I had the luck of being  what do you think of my memoir? assigned a passage from The Aeneid—a work that I could still remember translating in Dr. ) I’ve always found it strange that I retrieve names and scenes with great accuracy when whole chunks of information, people, events are missing, beyond my conscious grasp. Reaching back at sixty, despite my research I cannot get back into my fifteen-year-old’s body.

Whatever the cultural material, structuralist models of analysis rescued you from the murk of ambiguity (not to say personal confusion) and privileged authority (the variously tweeded “we’s” of a fifties’ legacy), and feminism showed you what to make of what you found. Between the capacious categories of narratology and the stringent lines of feminist hermeneutics, there was no text the new “we” couldn’t crack. It was a heady moment. Is it true that there was no problem in articulating feminism and structuralism together?

Instead I transferred my desire for self-expression to foreign languages. Wanting to be the heroine of her life, and not just another Barnard girl sneaking around having sex behind her parents’ back, Joyce moved out of her parents’ house and into a room of her own. To write a novel? Perhaps first to have the experience—then to make some kind of new meaning of it on paper. ” She would describe “furnished rooms and sex” ()—too boldly, she thought, for the domesticated pages of the New Yorker. The real question was whether there was anything to become— and how.

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