as male novelists could, by restricting them to the women's league


Senior Member
I don't understand the part in bold. I'd appreciate some clarification on it.

As Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot increasingly came to dominate their period and to represent the models against which other women novelists were measured, they too became the objects of both feminine adulation and resentment. Feminine novelists could not evade rivalry with Bronte and Eliot, as male novelists could, be restricting them to the women's league. In a letter to Blackwood's pleading the case of her new novel, Mrs. Linton inevitably compared it to Jane Eyre and Adam Bede; she insisted that it was "not a weaker book than any of these."

A Literature of Their Own
  • Thank you. The PDF version of the book says "be restricting". So it's a typo. I'd be better off reading it on goodreads then.
    Do I understand it correctly?
    Yes(*). Male novelists could evade comparison with Bronte and Eliot because they (the males) could "restrict them to the women's league" (dismiss them as mere women). Female novelists could not do that because they were, so to speak, in the same league.

    (*)Perhaps I should have said "No." Male novelists did not want to "rival with them". They wanted the opposite. They wanted to evade comparison, i.e. they wanted not to be compared with them. They did not need to show that they were better; it was a foregone conclusion. It was generally accpeted at the time that men were obviously better than women at pretty well everything.