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A New Generation: Sex, Gender, and Creativity in Contemporary Women's Writing in French Gill Rye THIS SPECIAL ISSUE of L'Esprit Créateur is devoted to the 'new generation' of women writers who have burst onto the French literary scene over the past decade or so, and its contributors explore some of the most insistent themes and issues to emerge in what is a diverse body of fascinating and controversial new writing. Distanced from 1970s feminism but read in the shadow of its heritage, the work of these writers produces the possibility of a shift from women as objects (of display, of desire or of fear and fantasy) to women as authors of their own subjectivities—as mothers, as daughters, as lovers, as writers. The articles in this collection between them offer critical engagements with the work of twelve writers who are currently attracting international attention. The contributions explore the ways in which different aspects of sex and gender—and thus also personal relationships—are being inscribed in women's fictional, autobiographical, and autofictional writing. The collection opens with Gill Rye's article on mothers in texts by Christine Angot and Marie Darrieussecq, while Marie-Claire Barnet's lively article on Régine Detambel 's La Verrière concentrates on the tempestuous nature of the teenage daughter. Several of the ensuing articles centre on the theme of women's sexuality : Margaret-Anne Hutton argues that Marie Nimier's La Nouvelle Pornographie is more an ironic comment on, than part of, the current trend for women-authored pornography and writing about sex. Sarah Cooper's study of Catherine Cusset's Jouir, on the other hand, analyses one of the prime examples of this very trend, addressing the issue of a woman writing sexuality and desire, as does, in a very different way, Claudia Martinek's article on what she sees as a rather bleak treatment of sexuality in novels by Virginie Despentes and Calixthe Beyala. Lorie Sauble-Otto's study of Marie Darrieussecq 's Truismes and Jacqueline Harpman's Moi qui η 'ai pas connu des hommes charts their heroines' struggle for identity in oppressive and desolate conditions, and Martine Fernandes engages with Algerian-French writer Nina Bouraoui's self-proclaimed mixité in both ethnicity and sexuality to argue that the point of her 'confessional' texts is not so much a 'coming out' story but a desire to undo categories and to assert that what really matters are loving rela- L'Esprit Créateur tionships. And indeed it is with a focus on different aspects of love that this special issue comes to a close: Laureline Amanieux discusses the disturbing relationship between cannibalism and love in the work of Amélie Nothomb; Carol J. Murphy traces "une quête sentimentale" in Marie Nimier's Domino; and Diana Holmes examines recent trends in the love story through a study of the work of two quite different writers, Camille Laurens and Alina Reyes. While sex and gender are clearly the stuff of creativity here, in most of the texts under discussion language and writing are themselves part of feminine jouissance. In the work of Angot and Bouraoui, Cusset, Darrieussecq and Detambel, Harpman and Laurens, Nimier and Nothomb, women and girls write—in order to love, in order to desire, in order to survive. Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London Spring 2005 ...


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