The Feminist Encyclopedia of French Literature

By Eva Martin Sartori; Colette H. Winn et al. | Go to book overview
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was not the same as boys'. In this same period, French industries turned to a cheaper labor force composed mainly of women, thus creating a rivalry with male workers. These new socioeconomic conditions partly explain the misogynistic undercurrent of the French left.

In spite of Barbey d'Aurevilly's scathing satire Les bas-bleus, women wrote extensively. The nineteenth century saw an explosion in the number of women writers. By 1894, 1,200 female authors were registered in the Société des gens de lettres, while 32 women were members of the Société des auteurs dramatiques.

Unlike the beginning of the nineteenth century, when women of the upper classes had greater access to the literary profession, the late nineteenth century saw many more working-class and middle-class authors, including such diverse authors as Marguerite Audoux*, Augustine Blanchecotte*, Gyp*, and Jeanne Marni*, whose literary productions were often their main source of income.

If gender bias often constrained women in the nineteenth century, they nevertheless produced a vast body of written texts. In recent years, scholars have begun to acknowledge women's struggles for political and social equality and their key contributions to reformist movements. Nevertheless, their literary accomplishments have often been obscured by the gender bias of the twentieth century. Only a handful of nineteenth-century women have regained a place in the contemporary literary canon. Although there is much ongoing feminist scholarship aimed at reevaluating women's literature in this period and reaffirming its significance, in the final analysis, the literary history of women's writing has yet to be written.

Mary Rice-DeFosse and Juliette Parnell-Smith


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Secondary Texts

Abensour, Léon. Le Féminisme sous le règne de Louis-Philippe et en 1848. Paris: Plon, 1913.

Albistur, Maïté, and Daniel Armogathe. Histoire du féminisme français du moyen âge à nos jours. 2 vols. Paris: Des femmes, 1977.

Aron, Jean-Paul. Misérable et glorieuse: la femme au XIXe siècle. Paris: Fayard, 1980.

Ataud, Claire. Lire les Femmes de lettre. Paris: Dunod, 1993.

Moses, Claire Goldberg. French Feminism in the Nineteenth Century. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984.


TWENTIETH CENTURY

The twentieth century is a period in which France has participated in two world wars, witnessed the independence of most of its colonies, experienced mass immigration, and confronted the internal tensions that have arisen from the Occupation and the Algerian War. In terms of literary and philosophical movements, the same century has moved from surrealism* and existentialism*

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