New French Feminisms: An Anthology

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

I think "feminine literature" is an organic, translated writing. . . translated from blackness, from darkness. Women have been in darkness for centuries. They don't know themselves. Or only poorly. And when women write, they translate this darkness. . . . Men don't translate. They begin from a theoretical platform that is already in place, already elaborated. The writing of women is really translated from the unknown, like a new way of communicating rather than an already formed language. But to achieve that, we have to turn away from plagiarism. There are many women who write as they think they should write -- to imitate men and make a place for themselves in literature. Colette wrote like a little girl, a turbulent and terrible and delightful little girl. So she wrote "feminine literature" as men wanted it. That's not feminine literature in reality. It's feminine literature seen by men and recognized as such. It's the men who enjoy themselves when they read it. I think feminine literature is a violent, direct literature and that, to judge it, we must not -- and this is the main point I want to make -- start all over again, take off from a theoretical platform. The other day you were telling me, "Yes, but women can also be ideologues, philosophers, poets, etc., etc." Of course. Of course. But why go over that? That should go without saying. We should be saying the opposite: can men forget everything and join women?. . . .

You know, in his Discourse on Politics, Aimé Césaire, the black poet, says that when someone is brown, people always wonder if he or she has black blood, but never do they wonder if he or she has white blood. And when we have a male in front of us, we could ask: does he have some female in him? And that could be the main point. That's it: reverse everything, including analysis and criticism. . . . Reverse everything. Make women the point of departure in judging, make darkness the point of

From an interview by Susan Husserl- Kapit in Signs, Winter 1975.

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