edge of the guillotine. Illegitimately, like her, since deprived of legal rights, women gained new strength and assertiveness throughout the Age of Enlightenment and achieved rare prominence and visibility. Their progress came, however, to a crashing halt as the Revolution turned into Terror: women's political gatherings and clubs were outlawed, and militant feminists derided and beheaded. In short, to use Vigée-Lebrun's* words, women reigned, the Revolution dethroned them.
Samia I. Spencer
Abensour, Léon. La Femme et le féminisme avant la Révolution. Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1923.
Beach, Cecilia. French Women Playwrights before the Twentieth Century: A Checklist. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.
Bonnel, Roland, and Catherine Rubinger, eds. Femmes Savantes et Femmes d'Esprit: Women Intellectuals of the French Eighteenth Century. New York: Peter Lang, 1994.
Goncourt, Edmond de le, and Jules Goncourt. The Woman of the Eighteenth Century. Trans. Jacques Le Clercq and Ralph Roeder. New York: Minton, Balch and Co., 1927.
Goodman, Dena. The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994.
Gouges, Olympe de. Adresse aux représentants de la nation. Paris: N.p., 1790.
-----. Les Comédiens démasqués ou madame de Gouges ruinée par la Comédie Française pour se faire jouer. Paris: Imprimerie de la Comédie Française, 1790.
Lee, Vera. The Reign of Women in Eighteenth-Century France. Cambridge, MA: Schenken, 1975.
Levy, Darline Gay, Harriett Branson Applewhite, and Mary Durham Johnson. Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1795. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979.
Spencer, Samia I., ed. French Women and the Age of Enlightenment. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.
In France, the nineteenth century can be said to begin with the Revolution of 1789. The Revolution profoundly destabilized the traditional social order, and with it the categories that organized human experience under the Ancien Régime, not least among them gender. In this century, the history of France was alternately marked by revolution and reaction, with women benefiting from periods of greater liberalization, only to lose ground in periods of repression. Later in the century, the progress of the industrial revolution in France slowly transformed the material conditions of existence, with a significant impact on literary production.
In the aftermath of the first Revolution, French women of the nineteenth century found themselves increasingly restricted in their activities. According to