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Fictional Foreigners in Old Regime France
In the eighteenth century, a type of novel flourished showing naive outsiders who come to Europe and are amazed at what they see. Foreign travelers first set foot in Europe in the sixteenth century and are memorably present in Montaigne's essay Des Cannibales. The genre was made popular in France by Montesquieu's novel Lettres persanes. Considering the "stranger" as a figure of ambiguity, Sylvie Romanowski explains why the genre was so useful to the Enlightenment. The question of why showing ambiguous stranger is important in that period is addressed in the book's introduction by setting the Enlightenment in the historical context of the seventeenth century. Romanowski then examines Montaigne's Des Cannibales, showing how these first "outsiders" relate to their eighteenth-century successors. She next considers Montesquieu's Lettres persanes in its entirety, studying the voices of the men, the women, and the eunuchs. She also studies other examples of the genre. The author closes with a discussion of the philosophical tension, ongoing in Western thought, between skeptics and those who, refusing skepticism, seek firm foundations for knowledge, this draws connections between the sixteenth century, and our "postmodern" era.
History and Memory in François Mauriac’s Bloc-notes
This book, the first English-language study of Mauriac's Bloc-notes, presents these poignant, incisive editorials on social justice, war, and human rights in postwar France as both symptomatic of a culture imbued with the past and emblematic of a Christian humanist's ethical approach to history and memory.
Michel Tournier, member of the Acadimie Goncourt and one of the most influential French writers of the post-Nouveau roman period, stresses the crucial interrelationship that exists between myth and literature. It is the writer's duty, he states, to keep myths alive by continually renewing and transforming them, re-releasing them in an ever changing social context. Written in French, this study considers the Tournier novel as the story of a voyage in a literal and figurative sense. Jonathan Krell uses the term "elementary" to characterize this voyage through the universe of Tournier's imagination, which is dominated by the four primordial element&--earth, water, air, and fire. Building on a foundation of Western culture's rudimentary myths, such as the ogre, twinship, and the Biblical stories of creation and the magi, Tournier performs a radical and disturbing transformation. Professor Krell shows how the transformation is made.
Understanding Marcel Proust includes an overview of Marcel Proust’s development as a writer, addressing both works published and unpublished in his lifetime, and then offers an in-depth interpretation of Proust’s major novel, In Search of Lost Time, relating it to the Western literary tradition while also demonstrating its radical newness as a narrative. In his introduction Allen Thiher outlines Proust's development in the context of the political and artistic life of the Third Republic, arguing that everything Proust wrote before In Search of Lost Time was an experiment in sorting out whether he wanted to be a writer of critical theory or of fiction. Ultimately, Thiher observes, all these experiments had a role in the elaboration of the novel. Proust became both theorist and fiction writer by creating a bildungsroman narrating a writer's education. What is perhaps most original about Thiher’s interpretation, however, is his demonstration that Proust removed his aged narrator from the novel’s temporal flow to achieve a kind of fictional transcendence. Proust never situates his narrator in historical time, which allows him to demonstrate concretely what he sees as the function of art: the truth of the absolute particular removed from time’s determinations. The artist that the narrator hopes to become at the end of the novel must pursue his own individual truths—those in fact that the novel has narrated, for him and the reader, up to the novel’s conclusion. Written in a language accessible to upper-level undergraduates as well as literate general readers, Understanding Marcel Proust simultaneously addresses a scholarly public aware of the critical arguments that Proust's work has generated. Thiher's study should make Proust's In Search of Lost Time more widely accessible by explicating its structure and themes.
Clothing in Twelfth-Century French Romance
Enide’s tattered dress and Erec’s fabulous coronation robe; Yvain’s nudity in the forest, which prevents maidens who know him well clothed from identifying him; Lanval’s fairy-lady parading about in the Arthurian court, scantily dressed, for all to observe: just why is clothing so important in twelfth-century French romance? This interdisciplinary book explores how writers of this era used clothing as a signifier with multiple meanings for many narrative purposes. Clothing figured prominently in twelfth-century France, where exotic fabrics and furs came to define a social elite. Monica Wright shows that representations of clothing are not mere embellishments to the text; they help form the textual weave of the romances in which they appear. This book is about how these descriptions are constructed, what they mean, and how clothing becomes an active part of romance composition—the ways in which writers use it to develop and elaborate character, to advance or stall the plot, and to structure the narrative generally.
Vol. 19 (2011) through current issue
WOMEN IN FRENCH exists to promote the study of women writers and women in civilization in the French-speaking world. An additional purpose of the organization is to share information and concerns about the status of women in Francophone countries and in higher education in North America. WOMEN IN FRENCH is an Allied Organization of the Modern Language Association and a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.
WOMEN IN FRENCH STUDIES is a publication of WOMEN IN FRENCH. It is published once a year. WOMEN IN FRENCH also publishes special volumes at regular intervals.