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234Women in French Studies sexual difference "without resentment, can cultivate it withjoy and irony, and can refuse to essentialize it" (274). Women s Words offers rich subject for debate and interesting perspectives on the writers whose portraits it contains. Many readers will regret the lack of footnotes or bibliography for the portraits, although in not providing them Ozouf follows the conventions ofthe genre. However, the introduction and "Essay on French Singularity" contain extensive footnotes and there is an excellent index. Mary Anne GarnettUniversity of Arkansas at Little Rock Kiki Gounaridou and Frayer Lively. Rachilde: Madame la Mortand Other Plays. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1998. ISBN: 0-8018-5762-7 (pbk.). Pp. 163. Symbolist playwrights count very few women among their ranks. In fact, Rachile, one ofthe writers most committed to the aesthetics ofthe movement and one ofthe most willing to attempt a translation ofthe symbolist vision into theater, appears to be the only woman to have written any Symbolist plays. Most noted for her desire to wear men's clothing and other "scandalous" behavior unbefitting a woman ofthe times, Rachilde, in Gounaridou and Lively's work, is removed from the realm ofthe anecdotal and the curious, and is given her rightful place among the literati ofthe era; the book touches on her various interactions with Gauguin, Jarry, Willy, Barbey d'Aurevilly and others, suggesting the breadth and necessity ofher literary influence ofthe time. Taking Rachilde well beyond her titillating role as "Mile Baudelaire" and the "Marquise de Sade," Lively's introduction amply substantiates claims that Rachilde was among the most original and influential artists of Symbolist theater. The scope ofLively's introduction is less biographical than most ofthe existing criticism about Rachilde, and although interspersing relevant and accepted biographical information into the whole ofher introduction, Lively's overview of Rachilde's role in Symbolist theater also offers a useful and clear perspective on the difficulties inherent to putting together a theatrical production, not only by noting the financial constraints of those running the theater, but also by discussing the difficulties in staging a production given the Symbolist view that "Art should speak obliquely, not face to face." Relying on critical reviews and Rachilde's own remarks about her works and their execution, Lively weaves together the dialogue surrounding Rachilde's productions and also comments on the visual gaffes that do not usually disturb the reader ofthe play. Her analyses ofthe plays in this context offer a comprehensive perspective on several theatrical undertakings that were meant to radically change the conventions of the theater and on how they broke from tradition. The six plays that have been translated for this collection offer a good overview of Rachilde's theatrical innovations at a time when Romantic theater was staid, stagnating and the Symbolists were struggling with the problems ofbring- Book Reviews235 ing Symbolism to the stage. Lively's introduction enables the reader to comprehendjust how revolutionary Rachilde's dramaturgy was, and, in addition, to realizejust how "unladylike" and troubling her themes were for the day. Useful to the study ofthe late nineteenth and early twentieth-century literature, and also useful to contrasting male and female perceptions ofthe surrounding world, Rachilde's plays, despite her claims ofnot being a feminist, touch on issues that still remain at the crux ofany feminist discussion. With the exception of Voice ofBlood (La Voix du sang), all of the plays deal with the intertwining of sex and violence. The presence of Voice ofBlood, however, is necessary to this volume as it was among the first symbolist plays represented at Paul Fort's Théâtre d'Art, and heralds Rachilde's early and continued contributions to the movement. Pleasure (Volupté), The Painted Woman (La Femmepeinte), The Prowler (Le Rôdeur), all raise questions about both male and female sexuality, and also force us to consider the element of fear and the depth to which it governs our response to the other sex. The Transparent Doll (La Poupée transparente) takes an interesting look at maternal instinct and its potential link to insanity. This play offsets the near insanity ofthe male character in The Painted Woman. Madame La Mort, although the last play of the collection, further...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-5486
Print ISSN
1077-825x
Pages
pp. 234-235
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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