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Literature > French Literature

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The Proustian Quest Cover

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The Proustian Quest

William Carter, Jeffrey Lange

"An ambitious study, the fruit of sustained work over many years. Professor Carter's book deploys a stunning knowledge of Proust and places Carter among the first line of Proust scholars in the country."
—Roger Shattuck,Boston University

The Proustian Quest is the first full-length study that explores the influence of social change on Proust's vision. In Remembrance of Things Past, Proust describes how the machines of transportation and communication transformed fashion, social mores, time-space perception, and the understanding of the laws of nature. Concentrating on the motif of speed, Carter establishes the centrality of the modern world to the novel's main themes and produces a far- reaching synthesis that demonstrates the work's profound structural unity.

Proust's Deadline Cover

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Proust's Deadline

Christine M. Cano

Marcel Prousts multivolume masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu, began to appear in 1913. Over the next fifty years, it gained a reputation as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. But the novels classic image as a completed work was later shattered by the discovery of unpublished drafts, and the war of the Prousts? has kept scholars arguing over its definitive form ever since._x000B_Christine M. Canos Prousts Deadline presents a concise history of the publishing and reception of À la recherche du temps perdu, and sorts out the most important issues that have arisen from the ensuing debates about the text. She ultimately shows how this quintessential book about time? tells another story about times passage: the story of Prousts mortal confrontation with the temporality of writing, publishing, and reading.

Psyche of Feminism Cover

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Psyche of Feminism

Sand, Colette, Sarraute

by Catherine Peebles

The Psyche of Feminism argues that a feminist ethics, in order to be both feminist and ethical, needs to embrace psychoanalysis. After reviewing the relation between feminism and psychoanalysis and arguing for the centrality of psychoanalysis to feminist thought, the study offers an analysis of two attempts by George Sand to reimagine the sexual relationship (Letters to Marcie, Lelia), where the emphasis is on political injustice and the impossibility of women's desires. Moving from rights and desires to the question of pleasures, Peebles then takes up a relatively little-read work by Colette, The Pure and the Impure, in which the narrator suggests that pleasure and its corporeal language hold the key to any understanding of masculinity and femininity.

The Queer Turn in Feminism Cover

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The Queer Turn in Feminism

Identities, Sexualities, and the Theater of Gender

Anne Emmanuelle Berger is currently professor of French Literature and Gender Studies at the Universite Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis, where she heads the Centre d’etudes feminines et d’etudes de genre. She is also director of a new national Institute for

More than any other area of late-twentieth-century thinking, gender theory and its avatars have been to a large extent a Franco-American invention. In this book, a leading Franco-American scholar traces differences and intersections in the development of gender and queer theories on both sides of the Atlantic. Looking at these theories through lenses that are both “American” and “French,” thus simultaneously retrospective and anticipatory, she tries to account for their alleged exhaustion and currency on the two sides of the Atlantic. The book is divided into four parts. In the first, the author examines two specifically “American” features of gender theories since their earliest formulations: on the one hand, an emphasis on the theatricality of gender (from John Money’s early characterization of gender as “role playing” to Judith Butler’s appropriation of Esther Newton’s work on drag queens); on the other, the early adoption of a “queer” perspective on gender issues. In the second part, the author reflects on a shift in the rhetoric concerning sexual minorities and politics that is prevalent today. Noting a shift from efforts by oppressed or marginalized segments of the population to make themselves “heard” to an emphasis on rendering themselves “visible,” she demonstrates the formative role of the American civil rights movement in this new drive to visibility. The third part deals with the travels back and forth across the Atlantic of “sexual difference,” ever since its elevation to the status of quasi-concept by psychoanalysis. Tracing the “queering” of sexual difference, the author reflects on both the modalities and the effects of this development. The last section addresses the vexing relationship between Western feminism and capitalism. Without trying either to commend or to decry this relationship, the author shows its long-lasting political and cultural effects on current feminist and postfeminist struggles and discourses. To that end, she focuses on one of the intense debates within feminist and postfeminist circles, the controversy over prostitution.

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Rachilde and French Women's Authorship

From Decadence to Modernism

Melanie C. Hawthorne

Under the assumed name Rachilde, Marguerite Eymery (1860–1953) wrote over sixty works of fiction, drama, poetry, memoir, and criticism, including Monsieur Vénus, one of the most famous examples of decadent fiction. She was closely associated with the literary journal Mercure de France, inspired parts of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, and mingled with all the literary lights of the day. Yet for all that, very little has been written about her. Melanie C. Hawthorne corrects this oversight and counters the traditional approach to Rachilde by persuasively portraying this "eccentric" as patently representative of the French women writers of her time and of the social and literary issues they faced. Seen in this light, Rachilde's writing clearly illustrates important questions in feminist literary theory as well as significant features of turn-of-the-century French society.
 
Hawthorne arranges her approach to Rachilde around several defining events in the author's life, including the controversial publication of Monsieur Vénus, with its presentation of sex reversals. Weaving back and forth in time, she is able to depict these moments in relation to Rachilde's life, work, and times and to illuminate nineteenth-century publishing practices and rivalries, including authorial manipulations of the market for sexually suggestive literature. The most complete and accurate account yet written of this emblematic author, Hawthorne's work is also the first to situate Rachilde in the broader social contexts and literary currents of her time and of our own.

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Radical Indecision

Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, and the Future of Criticism

Leslie Hill

In his newest book, Radical Indecision, esteemed scholar Leslie Hill poses the following question: If the task of a literary critic is to make decisions about the value of a literary work or the values embodied in it, decisions in turn based on some inherited or established values, what happens when that piece of literature fails to subscribe to the established values? Put another way, how should literary criticism respond to the paradox that in order to make critical judgments of literary works, it is first necessary to suspend judgment and to consider the impossibility of making a final decision? Hill pursues these ideas in the works of leading French critics Roland Barthes, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida, discussing writers such as Sade, Mallarmé, Proust, Artaud, Genet, Celan, and Duras. Hill concludes that, despite their differences, Barthes, Blanchot, and Derrida share a conviction that criticism cannot take place without exposure to that resistance to decision that is inseparable from reading and that they address diversely as the “neuter” or the “undecidable.” Radical Indecision offers the first sustained exploration of the “undecidable.” This comprehensive book breathes new life into the discipline of literary theory and will be essential reading for students and scholars alike.

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Ravishing Maidens

Writing Rape in Medieval French Literature and Law

By Kathryn Gravdal

In this study of sexual violence and rape in French medieval literature and law, Kathryn Gravdal examines an array of famous works never before analyzed in connection with sexual violence. Gravdal demonstrates the variety of techniques through which medieval discourse made rape acceptable: sometimes through humor and aestheticization, sometimes through the use of social and political themes, but especially through the romanticism of rape scenes.

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Reading Boileau

An Integrative Study of the Early "Satires"

by Robert Corum

n French literary history Nicolas Boileau (1636-17'1) has enjoyed legendary status as the great codifier of French classicism, the discerning critic who could demolish or elevate several generations of French poets. This view of Boileau's role has lead to an emphasis on his poetics, not his poems, which in turn has generated general disdain for his poetic art. Robert Corum dispels these misconceptions about Boileau by focusing rigorous critical attention on Boileau's first nine Satires and the accompanying "Discours au toy," 11 composed between 1657 and 1668. His reading takes into account a number of factors, including sources, genesis, relation to one another, coherence, and continuity of argument. This examination reveals Boileau to be a gifted poet, not just a talented versifier or a strait-laced mouthpiece for French classical doctrine.

Reading, Translating, Rewriting Cover

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Reading, Translating, Rewriting

Angela Carter's Translational Poetics

Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère

In translating Charles Perrault's seventeenth-century Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des Moralités into English, Angela Carter worked to modernize the language and message of the tales before rewriting many of them for her own famous collection of fairy tales for adults, The Bloody Chamber, published two years later. In Reading, Translating, Rewriting: Angela Carter's Translational Poetics, author Martine Hennard Dutheil de la Rochère delves into Carter's The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (1977) to illustrate that this translation project had a significant impact on Carter's own writing practice. Hennard combines close analyses of both texts with an attention to Carter's active role in the translation and composition process to explore this previously unstudied aspect of Carter's work. She further uncovers the role of female fairy-tale writers and folktales associated with the Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen in the rewriting process, unlocking new doors to The Bloody Chamber. Hennard begins by considering the editorial evolution of The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault from 1977 to the present day, as Perrault's tales have been rediscovered and repurposed. In the chapters that follow, she examines specific linkages between Carter's Perrault translation and The Bloody Chamber, including targeted analysis of the stories of Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Hennard demonstrates how, even before The Bloody Chamber, Carter intervened in the fairy-tale debate of the late 1970s by reclaiming Perrault for feminist readers when she discovered that the morals of his worldly tales lent themselves to her own materialist and feminist goals. Hennard argues that The Bloody Chamber can therefore be seen as the continuation of and counterpoint to The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, as it explores the potential of the familiar stories for alternative retellings. While the critical consensus reads into Carter an imperative to subvert classic fairy tales, the book shows that Carter valued in Perrault a practical educator as well as a proto-folklorist and went on to respond to more hidden aspects of his texts in her rewritings. Reading, Translating, Rewriting is informative reading for students and teachers of fairy-tale studies and translation studies.

Real Time Cover

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Real Time

Accelerating Narrative from Balzac to Zola

David F. Bell

In Real Time David F. Bell explores the decisive impact the accelerated movement of people and information had on the fictions of four giants of French realism--Balzac, Stendhal, Dumas, and Zola. _x000B__x000B_Nineteenth-century technological advances radically altered the infrastructure of France, changing the ways ordinary citizens--and literary characters--viewed time, space, distance, and speed. The most influential of these advances included the improvement of the stagecoach, the growth of road and canal networks leading to the advent of the railway, and the increasing use of mail, and of the optical telegraph. Citing examples from a wide range of novels and stories, Bell demonstrates the numerous ways in which these trends of acceleration became not just literary devices and themes but also structuring principles of the novels themselves. _x000B__x000B_Beginning with both the provincial and the Parisian communications networks of Balzac, Bell proceeds to discuss the roles of horses and optical telegraphs in Stendhal and the importance of domination of communication channels to the characters of Dumas, whose Count of Monte-Cristo might be seen as the ultimate fictional master of this accelerated culture. Finally, Bell analyzes the cinematic vision created by the arrival of the railroad, as depicted by Zola in La Bete Humaine.

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