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Mothers Voicing Mothering?

The Representation of Motherhood in the Novels and Short Stories of Marie NDiaye


Pauline Eaton

Mothers and mothering are significant features of contemporary women’s writing in France and mothers are narrators and key protagonists in nearly all Marie NDiaye’s novels and short stories. These mothers rarely strike the reader as attractive personalities and, in their mothering role, are portrayed as inadequate, abusive or even murderous. A pattern of maternal failure is passed on from mother to daughter and the relationship between mothers and daughters is one of rejection and suppression.

This book explores what this negative representation tells us about mothers and about how mothers represent their own mothering to themselves. Close readings of text and intertext are at the centre of the analytic approach, embracing references to existing commentaries on the author and to the psychoanalytic, mythological, religious and literary background against which NDiaye’s mothers demand to be read.

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Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data

Names: Eaton, Pauline, 1946author.

Title: Mothers voicing mothering? : the representation of motherhood in the novels and short stories of Marie NDiaye / Pauline Eaton.

Description: Oxford ; New York : Peter Lang, [2021] | Series: Studies in contemporary women’s writing, 22354123 ; vol. 10 | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2020057130 (print) | LCCN 2020057131 (ebook) | ISBN 9781800792227 (paperback) | ISBN 9781800792234 (ebook) | ISBN 9781800792241 (epub) | ISBN 9781800792258 (mobi)

Subjects: LCSH: NDiaye, MarieCriticism and interpretation. | Mothers in literature. | Mothers and daughters in literature.

Classification: LCC PQ2674.D53 Z63 2021 (print) | LCC PQ2674.D53 (ebook) | DDC 843/.914dc23

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