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Book Reviews239 Karyna Szmurlo, ed. The Novel 's Seductions: Staël 's Corrine in Critical Inquiry. Lewisburg: Bucknel U Press, 1999. 321 pp. ISBN: 0-8387-5337-X The Novel's Seductions: Staël's Corrine in Critical Inquiry does just what Ellen Moers in her pioneering work on great women writers requested in her 1976 work, Literary Women: The Great Writers: "Let us try to take Corrine seriously; it was the book ofthe woman ofgenius." Karyna Szmurlo has assembled an impressive array ofarticles by leading Staël scholars (Madelyn Gutwirth, Simone Balayé, Marie-Claire Vallois, Charlotte Hogsett, Susan Tenenbaum) and feminist scholars (Nancy K. Miller, Joan DeJean, Margaret Cohen, April Alliston, Nanette Le Coat), among others, that explore the complexities and impact of Staël's seminal work. Conceived of as a research tool for teachers and students, this collection includes some of the most compelling readings of Staël's Corrine to date as well as an updated bibliography. The Novel s Seductions is organized around three areas of inquiry. Part One, "Transgressive Rhetorics ofDesire," addresses the poetics of language in Staël's novel. To take the acclaimed woman writer, poet, and improvisatrice as subject of discourse in early nineteenth-century France is necessarily to transgress the limits of a circumscribed femininity. As Miller argues, Staël's novel proposes an "authoritative vision within femininity that refuses the legitimacy of a permanent patriarchal structure" (85). But while facing down the Law ofthe Father and its patriarchal strictures, these critics describe the ways in which Corrine defies, but is ultimately re-inscribed, within them (Rogers, Whitman, Miller, Cohen). In Part Two, "Gender/Genre-Bending," Corrine is examined for its many valences as a female literary creation within a male literary world. Seen as a critical text poised between two centuries, simultaneously occupying the position of precursor to the Romantic novel and culmination ofthe eighteenth-century novel, Corrine embraces a female oral mode ofconversational artistry which undermines the domination ofthe male literary tradition in place (DeJean). Moreover, Corrine 's plot of romantic love is embedded within Staël's meditations on history, politics and culture; thereby, broadening female literary authority beyond the intimate sphere (Le Coat, Tenenbaum). Accordingto Marie-ClaireVallois, however, Corrine's voice was ultimately a passive one; in her attempt to speak herself, she is "spoken by the discourse ofthe other, the voice of culture and the father" (137). All these articles speak eloquently ofStaël's attempt to tell the story ofthe woman ofgenius who must pay culture's exacting price for the hubris of attaining greatness. Part Three, "Genie at Large" traces Corrine's affiliations with past and future generations. Paola Giuli traces the historical inspiration for Corrine to the mid eighteenth-century Italian improvisatrice, Corilla Olímpica, whose own controversial coronation at the Roman capítol as "poet laureate" was quickly forgotten, illustrating the ephemeral nature of female glory. April Alliston reads the problematics of female transmission in the sub-text thus linking Corrine to Lafayette's Princesse de Clèves. For later generations, Staël's novel would prove to be an inspiration to poets Felicia Hemans, Maria Jane Jewsbury and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, while inducing the anxieties ofinfluence on Nathaniel Hawthorne 240Women in French Studies (Peel and Sweet, Rodier). Lastly, Charlotte Hogsett weaves the spiritual affinities between Marguerite Yourcenar and Germaine de Staël whose specter haunts Yourcenar's reception speech to the Académiefrançaise. Different in many ways, Staël and Yourcenar are nonetheless joined in their desire for literary glory and their huge talents that won them the respect of a literary culture to which they never fully belonged. The Novel s Seduction is an excellent introduction to the critical issues surrounding Staël's pivotal work. To those more conversant readers ofCorrine scholarship , be forewarned: a half dozen articles have already appeared elsewhere in whole, in part, or in translation. This, however, does not detract from the coherency of this rich collection of essays. Aurora WolfgangCalifornia State University at San Bernadino Barbara Klaw, Le Paris de Beauvoir. Éditions Syllepse, 1999, 127p. ISBN: 207993 -94-1. Lors de mon prochain séjour à Paris, j 'aurai en poche Le Paris...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-5486
Print ISSN
1077-825x
Pages
pp. 239-240
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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