The Black Galatea: Claire de Duras's Ourika
Abstract

This article considers the ways in which Claire de Duras (1777-1828) rewrites the Pygmalion story in her novella Ourika, privileging now the feminine, African voice of she who is created. In this fictional account of an historical person, de Duras uses an ovidian grid to explore internalized racism as demonstrated by the person of Ourika, a Senegalese child saved from slavery and raised in a French aristocratic family. Ourika's love for her benefactress's grandson, her "passion criminelle," leads to the accusation of "incest," which serves as a mask for miscegenation. The latter is considered against the backdrop of the Code Noir and race relations in colonial France. This intertextual analysis traces Ourika's de-animation: contrary to Pygmalion's statue who evolves from stone to flesh, Ourika seeks refuge among stone ruins. (LMR)


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