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French Detours, 1900-1930
Authority and Governance in the Essais
Michel de Montaigne (1533-92) is principally known today as a literary figure--the inventor of the modern essay and the pioneer of autobiographical self-exploration who retired from politics in midlife to write his private, philosophical, and apolitical Essais. But, as Biancamaria Fontana argues in Montaigne's Politics, a novel, vivid account of the political meaning of the Essais in the context of Montaigne's life and times, his retirement from the Bordeaux parliament in 1570 "could be said to have marked the beginning, rather than the end, of his public career." He later served as mayor of Bordeaux and advisor to King Henry of Navarre, and, as Fontana argues, Montaigne's Essais very much reflect his ongoing involvement and preoccupation with contemporary politics--particularly the politics of France's civil wars between Catholics and Protestants. Fontana shows that the Essais, although written as a record of Montaigne's personal experiences, do nothing less than set forth the first major critique of France's ancien régime, anticipating the main themes of Enlightenment writers such as Voltaire and Diderot. Challenging the views that Montaigne was politically aloof or evasive, or that he was a conservative skeptic and supporter of absolute monarchy, Fontana explores many of the central political issues in Montaigne's work--the reform of legal institutions, the prospects of religious toleration, the role of public opinion, and the legitimacy of political regimes.
Letters from Juliette Drouet to Victor Hugo 1833-1882
My Beloved Toto, a collection of letters written by Juliette Drouet to her lover, Victor Hugo, tells the story of a life and of the great love affair that shaped it. From 1833 until her death half a century later, Drouet wrote to Hugo twice daily on average, resulting in thousands of letters. The 186 translated here—most appearing in English for the first time—offer insights into nineteenth-century French culture as well as an insider’s look at the character, behavior, working habits, and day-to-day life of France’s most monumental man of letters.
The Marais and the Queerness of Community
"It is a living museum of a long-gone Jewish life and, supposedly, a testimony to the success of the French model of social integration. It is a communal home where gay men and women are said to stand in defiance of the French model of social integration. It is a place of freedom and tolerance where people of color and lesbians nevertheless feel unwanted and where young Zionists from the suburbs gather every Sunday and sometimes harass Arabs. It is a hot topic in the press and on television. It is open to the world and open for business. It is a place to be seen and a place of invisibility. It is like a home to me, a place where I feel both safe and out of place and where my father felt comfortable and alienated at the same time. It is a place of nostalgia, innovation, shame, pride, and anxiety, where the local and the global intersect for better and for worse. And for better and for worse, it is a French neighborhood."-from My Father and I
Mixing personal memoir, urban studies, cultural history, and literary criticism, as well as a generous selection of photographs, My Father and I focuses on the Marais, the oldest surviving neighborhood of Paris. It also beautifully reveals the intricacies of the relationship between a Jewish father and a gay son, each claiming the same neighborhood as his own. Beginning with the history of the Marais and its significance in the construction of a French national identity, David Caron proposes a rethinking of community and looks at how Jews, Chinese immigrants, and gays have made the Marais theirs.
These communities embody, in their engagement of urban space, a daily challenge to the French concept of universal citizenship that denies them all political legitimacy. Caron moves from the strictly French context to more theoretical issues such as social and political archaism, immigration and diaspora, survival and haunting, the public/private divide, and group friendship as metaphor for unruly and dynamic forms of community, and founding disasters such as AIDS and the Holocaust. Caron also tells the story of his father, a Hungarian Jew and Holocaust survivor who immigrated to France and once called the Marais home.
Military Fraternity, Intimacy, and Sexuality in Nineteenth-Century France
Following the French Revolution, radical military reforms created conditions for new physical and emotional intimacy between soldiers, establishing a model of fraternal affection that would persist from the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars through the Franco-Prussian War and World War I.
Based on extensive research in French and American archives, and enriched by his reading of Napoleonic military memoirs and French military fiction from Hugo and Balzac to Zola and Proust, Brian Joseph Martin's view encompasses a broad range of emotional and erotic relationships in French armies from 1789 to 1916. He argues that the French Revolution's emphasis on military fraternity evolved into an unprecedented sense of camaraderie among soldiers in the armies of Napoleon. For many soldiers, the hardships of combat led to intimate friendships. For some, the homosociality of military life inspired mutual affection, lifelong commitment, and homoerotic desire.
African Travel in Modern Fiction and Nonfiction
In Narrative Paths: African Travel in Modern Fiction and Nonfiction, Kai Mikkonen argues that early twentieth-century European travel writing, journal keeping, and fiction converged and mutually influenced each other in ways that inform current debates about the fiction–nonfiction distinction. Turning to narratives set in sub-Saharan Africa, Mikkonen identifies five main dimensions of interplay between fiction and nonfiction: the experiential frame of the journey, the redefinition of the language and objective of description, the shared cultural givens and colonial notions concerning sub-Saharan Africa, the theme of narrativisation, and the issue of virtual genres. Narrative Paths reveals the important role that travel played as a frame in these modernist fictions as well as the crucial ways that nonfiction travel narratives appropriated fictional strategies. Narrative Paths contributes to debates in narratology and rhetorical narrative theory about the fiction–nonfiction distinction. With chapters on a wide range of modernist authors—from Pierre Loti, André Gide, Michel Leiris, and Georges Simenon to Blaise Cendrars, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)—Mikkonen’s study also contributes to postcolonial approaches to these authors, examining issues of representation, narrative voice, and authority in narratives about colonial Africa.
"Hinds's study makes an important contribution to studies on the early-seventeenth-century novel. His analysis of the two novels is carried out in two broad and important contexts: sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century French literature in general (Baroque esthetic theory, the literary controversies of the time, etc.) and modern critical theory (Bakhtin, Kristeva, Benjamin, Foucault, etc.). The author brings all of these elements together in a coherent, intelligent, and thought-provoking manner
Vol. 29, no. 3 & 4 (2001) through current issue
Nineteenth-Century French Studies provides scholars and students with the opportunity to examine new trends, review promising research findings, and become better acquainted with professional developments in the field. Scholarly articles on all aspects of nineteenth-century French literature and criticism are invited. Published articles are peer-reviewed to insure scholarly integrity. The journal has an extensive book review section covering a variety of disciplines.