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232Women in French Studies husband, she is charged to oversee the defense of the border, and she is the hub around which her people cluster. Dhuoda sends her son William this forceful selfportrait by allowing her image to shine forth in the text and welding herselfand her son together by weaving a verbal and visual pattern by means ofthe acrostic and by conspicuously naming herself. On November 30, 841, Duchess Dhuoda of Uzès (a southern French town about 25 km from Nimes and 40 from Avignon) and wife ofBernard ofToulouse, Count ofBarcelona, Duke ofSeptimania, and godson ofEmperor Louis the Pious, began a long letter to her son William, the day after his fifteenth birthday. In this artful letter she embellished motherly moral advice with acrostics and verses, fanciful etymologies, grammatical gaming, and numerologies to capture and hold the reader. She wrote out offear as well as love, forWilliam was in danger since his father Bernard had handed him over at the battle of Fontenoy and ordered him to swear fealty to 18-year-old Charles the Bald, Charlemagnes's grandson and the future emperor. Dhuoda's alarms for her son werejustified for seven years later he would revolt against Charles and eventually be slain. Dhuoda writes her letter during a period marked by strife. The grandsons of Charlemagne fought over their shares ofthe empire while Vikings to the north and Saracens to the south battered at the edges of the kingdom. The Liber Manualis belongs to the religious intellectual movement of court and monastic scholars of the time who wrote prodigiously ofthe sacred obligations ofkings, advised secular nobles of their Christian duties, and hoped to restore the state to virtuous peace through prayers, feats, and liturgical reforms. While the Liber Manualis has often been called the first treatise on childhood education, Marcelle Thiébaux' cleverly managed translation establishes Dhuoda's importance in a feminist and literary context. It tells a poignant story of the Carolingian period, a mother's outspoken bidding to her son to come into his own as future householder and seignorial lord ofhis great estate, as well as a personal chronicle ofthe dread of an imminent loss. Thiébaux' felicitous flowing prose and skillfully translated lyric passages, which artfully mask their Latinate origins while remaining faithful to the original text, permit the reader to smoothly enter the realm of Dhuoda's convictions and fears, and to readily discover the central tenet ofher writing. Ultimately, Dhuoda's Handbook endures as a mother's voice from the grave, a mother's mirrored image, a likeness ofher self, her name and book in her own words. Thierry BoucqueyScripps College, Claremont University Center MonaOzouf. Women's Words: Essay on French Singularity. Trans. Jane Marie Todd. University of Chicago Press, 1997. 300 pp. ISBN: 0-226-64333-6. Readers interested in the historical differences between American and French feminisms will welcome Jane Marie Todd's translation ofLes mots desfemmes: essai sur la singularitéfrançaise by Mona Ozouf, a literary critic for Le Nouvel Book Reviews233 Observateur and a former director ofresearch at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique. Women s Words is a polemical work that seeks to explain the "singularity " ofFrench feminism, which according to Ozoufis characterized by its moderation and a relatively slow rate ofwomen's political enfranchisement and achievement ofequality before the law. To illustrate the "French path" toward feminism, Ozouf devotes the bulk of her book to portraits often admittedly exceptional women: Mme du Deffand, Mme de Charrière, Mme Roland, Mme de Staël, Mme de Rémusat, George Sand, Hubertine Auclert, Colette, Simone Weil, and Simone de Beauvoir. Each literary portrait identifies a distinguishing feature ofits subject that is highlighted in the chapter title, e.g.. "Hubertine, or Stubbornness," "Aurore, or Generosity," "Gabrielle, or Gluttony ." Indeed, Ozoufviews these women as "figures from the Roman de la rose, gracious allegories of distinct, and at times antagonistic, virtues" (xv). Despite their very different life experiences and personalities, these "disparate pearls ofa necklace" are linked by several threads, including their faith in the importance of girls' education and the fact that "each more or less spoke ofthe others" (xvi). Moreover, these women are united by the way...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-5486
Print ISSN
1077-825x
Pages
pp. 232-234
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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