When literary periods are defined on the basis of men’s writing, women’s writing must be forcibly assimilated into an irrelevant grid: a Renaissance that is not a renaissance for women, a Romantic period in which women played very little part, a modernism with which women conflict. Simultaneously, the history of women’s writing has been suppressed, leaving large, mysterious gaps in accounts of the development of various genres. Feminist criticism is beginning to correct this situation. Margaret Anne Doody, for example, suggests that during ‘the period between the death of Richardson and the appearance of the novels of Scott and Austen,’ which has ‘been regarded as a dead period,’ late-eighteenth-century women writers actually developed ‘the paradigm for women’s fiction of the nineteenth century—something hardly less than the paradigm of the nineteenth-century novel itself.’ Feminist critics have also pointed out that the twentieth-century writer Virginia Woolf belonged to a tradition other than modernism and that this tradition surfaces in her work precisely where criticism has hitherto found obscurities, evasions, implausibilities, and imperfections.
It can be inferred from the passage that the author views the division of literature into periods based on men’s writing as an approach that