In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

B o ok R eview s also have been noted that in addition to Tartuffe’s personal attack on Orgon, he also undertakes a political denunciation of the latter in the King’s presence. My only regrets are that the historical parameters of this project could have been defined more rigorously, that the lack of a conclusion does not allow the reader to integrate several of the profound insights made in the course of the study, and that, while the author was careful to note the theoretical underpinnings of his methodology, he should have been equally careful in acknowledging those literary critics who have previously dealt with some o f the issues raised here: the political metaphor underlying the notion of family in Tartuffe (118) (Guicharnaud et al.), the monstrous in Racine (167) (Van Delft et al.), and the prob­ lematics of representation in La Princesse de Clèves (203) (Stone et al.). However, both by the depth and brilliance of his perceptions and the clarity and elegance of his formulations, Mitchell Greenberg has made, with this work, a major contribution to seventeenth-century French studies. R a l p h A l b a n e s e , J r . The University o f Memphis Marie-Françoise Berthu-Courtivron. M è r e e t f i l l e : L ’E n je u d u p o u v o ir . E s s a i s u r l e s é c r i t s a u t o b i o g r a p h i q u e s d e C o l e t t e . Geneva: Droz, 1993. Pp. 313. Like recent Colette scholarship in the United States that focuses on this writer’s com­ plex portrayal of mother-daughter relations, Berthu-Courtivron’s study addresses the ambiguities and ambivalences that inform these representations. To delve into the psychical complexities at work in Colette’s writing of the mother-daughter bond is to con­ tribute positively to Colette scholarship, which until the past five years or so, has tended to take Colette’s idealization of Sido, the dominant maternal figure, at face value. Two questions give impetus to Berthu-Courtivron’s study. First, she notes that Colette does not write about the maternal figure until 20 years into her literary career: “ Quel sens donner à cette ellipse de la figure maternelle? Deuxième paradoxe: cette lacune est comblée par une écriture pléthorique et hyperbolique de la Mère . .. Quel est le ressort de cette com­ plaisance tardive?” (1). Berthu-Courtivron answers these questions most clearly in her con­ clusion where she refers to Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytic work, asserting: “ L ’ellipse première de la figure maternelle correspond au temps nécessaire à la dissolution de la ran­ cune, de l’agressivité et de la haine” (289). The reason for Colette’s bitterness and aggres­ sion, following Klein, is maternal despotism. As Berthu-Courtivron documents, Colette’s writings about mother-daughter relations work simultaneously to express the daughter’s hostility toward the mother and to make reparation for that hostility. At the center of this reparation, in which the daughter attributes superiority to the mother relative to the self, are Colette’s egoistic desires. She projects qualities she values in herself onto Sido while recreating herself in this ideal “ maternal” image: “ Sido inspire la recréation, mais la recréation la façonne. Impossible de savoir où commence ni où finit le jeu d’éclipse. Il est très habile, pour se parfaire, d’en confier l’exigence à la mère, naturellement ambitieuse de sa progéniture” (291). Insights such as these are significant and provocative not only for Colette scholarship but for research on mother-daughter relations generally. Berthu-Courtivron’s analytical acumen, however, is something I, trained in American critical traditions, had difficulty perceiving under the overwhelming mass of textual docu­ mentation. The author’s knowledge of Colette’s vast oeuvre is undeniably exhaustive; she marshalls every possible textual excerpt to illustrate a point. She makes so many points, furthermore, that, while interesting in themselves, they make it hard to follow her larger argument, and the book...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 87-88
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.