New French Feminisms: An Anthology

By Elaine Marks; Isabelle De Courtivron | Go to book overview
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Why This Book?

"We translate what the American women write, they never translate our texts." This complaint by Hélène Cixous, one of France's leading women writers, is accurate. There are exceptions,1 but in general the texts that have been produced in France since May 1968 around and about the women's liberation movement are not known in the United States. Our book is therefore the beginning of an exchange.

What is going on in France has certain surface resemblances to what has been happening in the United States. There has been a temporary working together of diverse women's groups on such central issues as contraception and abortion; a split between reformists and radicals; a development of tensions, often ruptures, between homosexuals and heterosexuals; a formation of early links, later shattered, between feminist movements and other political, social movements whose goal is also to change both consciousness and the quality of life. Although the proportion of women involved in the women's liberation movement is significantly higher in the United States than it is in France, although consciousness-raising groups on the American model are virtually non

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1
The exceptions include: Hélène Cixous, "The Laugh of the Medusa," trans. Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen, Signs, 1, no. 4 ( Summer 1976): 875-93; Hélène Cixous interviewed by Christiane Makward, Sub-Stance, no. 13 ( 1976): 19-37; Hélène Cixous , "La jeune née: An Excerpt", trans. Meg Bortin, Diacritics, Summer 1977, pp. 64-69; Marguerite Duras, "An Interview with Marguerite Duras" by Susan Husserl-Kapit , Signs 1, no. 2 ( Winter 1975): 423-34; Julia Kristeva, "On the Women of China", trans. Ellen Conroy Kennedy, Signs 1, no. 1 ( Autumn 1975): 57-81; Julia Kristeva interviewed by Josette Féral, trans. Jane Kritzman, Sub-Stance, no. 13 ( 1976) pp. 9-18. We should also mention the occasional, often truncated interviews with Simone de Beauvoir by Alice Schwarzer, trans. Helen Eustis, in Ms., July 1972, pp. 60, 62-63,134 and July 1977, pp. 12-13, 15-16, and a dialogue between Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan in Saturday Review, June 14, 1975, pp. 14, 16-18, 20, 56. The only longer works of importance that have been translated are: Monique Wittig, Les guérillères, trans. David LeVay( Avon Books, 1973); and Julia Kristeva, About Chinese Women, trans. Anita Barrows ( Urizen Books, 1977).

-ix-

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