In Gubar and Gilbert’s piece “Infection in the Sentence: the woman writer and the anxiety of authorship” they discuss and analyze the woman writer’s position, reality, and literary dynamic in our male dominant society. They explain male writers experience what Harold Bloom theorized as the “anxiety of influence,” a fear that their works will never be as influential as their precursor’s works (Gilbert and Gubar 290). Gubar and Gilbert explain women, however, not only have this fear to worry of, but also first and foremost must confront the basic fear of authorship. The woman, socially conditioned as authoritatively second to men, doubts her ability to “become a ‘precursor,’” and imagines that trying to adopt the masculine literary persona in “the act of writing will isolate or destroy her” (Gilbert and Gubar 291). Nevertheless, women have indeed paved their own way in the literary cannon, creating for themselves a subculture of sorts. This subculture has allowed for women to find and rely on the support of fellow female authors, and has allowed for a sense of creative pioneering men cannot experience because of their precursors (Gilbert and Gubar 293). Since the women literary tradition has such few precursors in relation to the male literary tradition, the female writer can delight and find motivation in her ability to contribute to the building of a “viable tradition” (Gilbert and Gubar 293).
In light of the difference of anxieties writers experience based on gender, we are forced and greatly benefit to read works of each gender in their respective perspectives. Understanding the psychological challenges an author must tackle to write can reveal a great deal about both their writing style and content of their writing. Men are primarily concerned with creative literary innovations to outdo their precursors while women’s work must be read with the respect and understanding of the anxiety of authorship that had to be overcome.