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Reviewed by:
  • Aventures et expériences: écritures des femmes en France au début du vingt-et-unième siècle by Amaleena Damlé et Gill Rye
  • Kathryn Robson
Aventures et expériences: écritures des femmes en France au début du vingt-et-unième siècle. Sous la direction de Amaleena Damlé et Gill Rye. (Faux titre, 394.) Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2014. 336 pp.

This first French-language study to analyse French women’s writing in the twenty-first century complements the two English-language volumes on contemporary French women’s writing also co-edited by Amaleena Damlé and Gill Rye. This latest volume includes some of the authors analysed in the other studies, but also extends the range of writers under consideration, treating such well-known figures as Christine Angot and Annie Ernaux alongside less familiar names such as Bessora and Gwenaëlle Aubry. The book aims to introduce these writers to a wider readership, as well as to open up the parameters of criticism on contemporary women’s writing in French in order to embrace new subjects, themes, and textual practices. The first part, ‘Aventures autobiographiques’, focuses on autobiographical experimentation, beginning with a chapter that poses the provocative question as to whether Christine Angot’s perpetual renegotiation of the conventions of autobiographical writing may be seen to have ‘killed’ the concept of autofiction that has frequently been associated with women’s writing in particular. The last chapter in the first part of the volume offers a sensitive analysis of the fragile yet fertile connection between love and knowledge that mobilizes alternative forms of encounter and exchange and goes beyond common feminist interpretations of love in terms of romance or sexuality. The second part of the volume, ‘Aventures sociales, philosophiques et politiques’, addresses wider sociopolitical and philosophical issues affecting women’s lives in the twenty-first century, including sexual violence, old age, marriage, and, in the two chapters that end the collection, the representation of the ‘post-human’. The division between ‘Aventures autobiographiques’ and ‘Aventures sociales, philosophiques et politiques’ is not entirely sustained, as chapters in the former part of the volume also address philosophical and social questions, but this is inevitable in a project whose strength lies partly in the way it entwines textual and psycho-social innovation and re-invention. The emphasis throughout the volume is on encounters and relations, be it between human subjects (evident in the later chapters, which address broader social issues through the ways in which they inflect interpersonal relationships, such as in marriage or in relations of violence); or between text, representation, and reader; or, as is the case in most of the chapters, mediating between these different aspects. This volume is to be welcomed for the way in which, rather than attempting to provide a straightforward overview of early twenty-first-century French writing by women, it seeks instead to open up new subjects and avenues of criticism, making space for alternative ways of conceiving of contemporary women’s writing in French. [End Page 422]

Kathryn Robson
Newcastle University


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