Magazine article World Literature Today

La Fabrique Des Pervers

Magazine article World Literature Today

La Fabrique Des Pervers

Article excerpt

Sophie Chauveau. La Fabrique des pervers. Paris. Gallimard. 2016. 288 pages.

When Sophie Chauveau's cousin Beatrice Meyer gets in touch with her after many years, it should be a cause for celebration. Instead, that meeting results in a very different kind of dynamic. For Chauveau realizes that, just like herself, Meyer had been sexually abused by her family members as a child. Together, they set out to determine how widespread that abuse might have been in the history of their large and prosperous clan. What they discover is properly appalling, and the story that Chauveau tells is one of panoramic dimensions, reaching back four generations, to the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian war.

Chauveau is abundantly conscious of the potential shock value of her story, and she exercises a great deal of tact and circumspection in order to avoid crude exploitation. She registers her conviction that this story must be told nonetheless, that someone must testify to this repeated, systematic abuse of the children in her family. For one thing, she is persuaded that her family was not the only one to suffer from this curse, as she calls it; she senses that many other families have been plagued by predatory males and strategically blind females; and she is aware, too, that the French judiciary system has long preferred to ignore the problem. …

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