New French Feminisms: An Anthology

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

Madeleine Gagnon

Taking over this language which, although it is mine, is foreign to me. Arranging it in my fashion and I don't translate. This meant, at first, learning on the writing slate in order not to squander. Writing meant learning not to spend; it meant erasing as I went along all that had been inscribed on the slate; a sharpened memory would compensate for the loss of the signs. My body, at the time, was losing nothing yet, my periods would come much later, yet everything was preparing me for it. Learning to exchange blood, milk, tears in the loss of the body, learning to flow, and remembering the traces on the day when they had been erased. For me words have always flowed as freely as the signs on the writing slate. I did not learn about the powers or the rights associated with them. Copyrights, rights of survival or immortality, the power of what is written down and remains, the obsessions with translations or with death, I, a woman, don't understand much about all this. I have learned to efface1 myself a thousand times and each time I return triumphant with pleasure. For me death is daily and monthly, it comes and goes. It doesn't mean ONE unique death to be feared; ever since I started to exist I have been dissolving into all that disappears and comes to life again. "To invent a language that is not oppressive, a language that does not leave speechless but that loosens the tongue" ( Parole de femme),2 this is where we stand, that is we men and women who are still struggling against all of the varied forms of exploitation, against all the forms of domination, for we have lived these for thousands of years within the core of our bodies; regardless of their origins, be they of sex or class, we have experienced them in our sexes. That's why we can only speak in a

From "Corps I" [Body I] in La venue à l'écriture [Coming to writing] ( Union Générale d'Editions, 10/ 18, 1977).

____________________
1
In French effacer means "to erase" and s'effacer, "to self-efface." -- Tr.
2
Madeleine Gagnon is quoting Annie Leclerc in Parole de femme. See the Bio/ Bibliography at the end of this book. -- Tr.

-179-

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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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