New French Feminisms: An Anthology

By Elaine Marks; Isabelle De Courtivron | Go to book overview

Xavière Gauthier

In French the word "writer" does not have a feminine form. For "poet," there is "poetess," a ridiculous word, it is synonymous with foolish innocence, nature (a prototype is Minou Drouet1 in the woman-child myth), or old-lady respectability.

There are, however, women who write. Is their writing different from men's? In what ways does their writing call attention to the fact that they are women?

There are two popular positions on this subject. Both are extreme and hence they clash. On the one hand, we could conceive of feminine literature in the traditional sense of the word, that is -- flowers, sweetness, children, tenderness, submission, and acceptance, etc. "With Mallarmé, I change worlds. With Louise or Marceline,2 I learn to love the firm solid world in which I live. Feminine poetry brings with it a sublime acceptance of the human condition," writes Alain Bosquet in his preface to Hanches [Haunches] by Claude de Burine. "I have often found comfort and freshness in the texts of women", writes Jean Breton in his introduction to Poésie féminine d'aujourd'hui [Feminine poetry today]. On the other band, denying the difference between the sexes, we could say that there exists only one type of literature -- it is neuter, and therefore it is the one in which women participate at the same rate at which they "progress" both socially and economically. "When women finally celebrate Mass, when they are equal in number to men in the

"Existe-t-il une écriture de femme?" [Is there such a thing as women's writing?] in Tel quel, Summer 1974. This selection and the one that follows were originally intended to be part of a double page spread on women's writing in Le monde des livres. The editor, Jacqueline Piatier, refused to publish the texts on the grounds that they were "completely incomprehensible, absurd, meaningless. . . ." They were published instead by the journal Tel quel.

____________________
1
A child poet whose work created considerable attention in the 1950s. -- Tr.
2
Louise Labé ( 1524?-1566) and Marceline Desbordes-Valmore ( 1785-1859), France's best-known women poets. -- Tr.

-161-

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New French Feminisms: An Anthology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Why This Book? ix
  • Introductions 1
  • Annie Leclerc 79
  • Claudine Herrmann 87
  • Hélène Cixous 90
  • Luce Irigaray 99
  • Warnings 115
  • Antoinette Fouque 117
  • Denise Le Dantec 119
  • Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi 120
  • Arlette Laguiller 121
  • Madeleine Vincent 125
  • Catherine Clément 130
  • Julia Kristeva 137
  • Simone De Beauvoir 142
  • Creations 159
  • Xavière Gauthier 161
  • Julia Kristeva 165
  • Claudine Herrmann 168
  • Marguerite Duras 174
  • Chantal Chawaf 177
  • Madeleine Gagnon 179
  • Viviane Forrester 181
  • Christiane Rochefort 183
  • Research on Women 211
  • Variations on Common Themes 212
  • Utopias 231
  • Simone De Beauvoir 233
  • Françoise Parturier 234
  • Françoise D'Eaubonne 236
  • Annie Leclerc 237
  • Marguerite Duras 238
  • Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi 239
  • Julia Kristeva 240
  • Julia Kristeva 241
  • Monique Wittig 242
  • Suzanne Horer Jeanne Socquet 243
  • Hélène Cixous 245
  • Index 271
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