While it provides an engaging tour of female voices, the new book feels flabbier, shallower, more diffuse. Some of its inquiries seem unrelated to feminism or anger, such as an interesting rumination on Adrienne Rich’s relation to her Judaism, and others seem overly familiar ... nonetheless entertaining and lively; it offers up many fascinating nuggets of information, and unearths intriguing biographical struggles ... Gilbert and Gubar are, perhaps not surprisingly, sharpest in their assessment of the political landscape of the 1970s ... The two critics are deft in their evocations of politically electric writers like Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich, but towering figures like Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, who defy easy ideological characterization, pose a little more difficulty. Gilbert and Gubar seem not quite sure what to do with them, and consequently their analysis of the two independent thinkers seems odd and off-key. It is a little disheartening to see them downplay Didion’s enormous literary contribution and overemphasize what they view as her conservative politics. Their desire to squeeze Didion into some sort of feminist narrative feels forced ... Regarding Sontag, they almost seem more comfortable talking about her appearance and star power, comparing her to 'Marilyn' and 'Jackie,' than they do with her complex and nuanced relationship to the women’s movement and her sexuality ... While it is, of course, Gilbert and Gubar’s prerogative to choose their own literary feminist pantheon, some of their exclusions are a bit hard to fathom ... I find myself wondering why Still Mad lacks the fire and focus of its famous predecessor ... Though Still Mad may not feel as profound, intellectually sinewy or fiercely focused as The Madwoman in the Attic, it remains an excellent resource for anyone seeking a spirited guide through the past few decades of feminist history. One can feel the sensibilities of these two pioneering scholars — humane, fair, impassioned, well intentioned — hovering over the page.
... these prolific and versatile women writers return to the field with incisive and redefining inquiries into the lives and work of diverse North American literary women who faced 'dizzying contradictions' and seemingly insurmountable opposition to propel feminism through the advances and backlashes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries ... Gilbert and Gubar set their pinpoint elucidations within a richly dimensional context, widening the lens to focus on Naomi Wolf, Alison Bechdel, Beyoncé, Claudia Rankine, and N. K. Jemisin. Given humanity’s ongoing battles for equality and justice on numerous fronts, Shulamith Firestone’s warning is keenly on point: 'Power, however it has evolved, whatever its origins, will not be given up without a struggle.”'
... thoroughly researched ... Gilbert and Gubar weave the political and social attributes of each decade into their literary analysis to illustrate how feminist thought and the nation changed under the societal transformations wrought by the civil rights movement, sexual revolution, Vietnam War, emergence of the New Right, Me Too movement, and other momentous events ... Despite challenges and social/political oscillations, this excellent book demonstrates the ways that feminism has persisted ... Highly recommended for anyone interested in American literature or women’s studies.