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Strange Adventures

Women’s Individuation in the Works of Pierrette Fleutiaux


Elizabeth Sercombe

Strange Adventures examines portrayals of womanhood in the works of prize-winning French author Pierrette Fleutiaux. Fleutiaux’s refreshing pictures of womanhood offer insights into how women can become more whole, substantial and free in themselves and in their relationships, as well as how they can contribute to the external world through their creativity and leadership. The study demonstrates how Fleutiaux’s heroines navigate the external, bodily and inner situations of adolescence, early adult life, marriage, motherhood, maturity, leadership and death, in the process developing greater inner resources of wisdom, compassion and resilience. This volume considers selections from Fleutiaux’s œuvre, from her first short fiction Histoire de la chauve-souris to her recent Loli le temps venu, including Métamorphoses de la reine (Goncourt de la nouvelle) and Nous sommes éternels (Prix Femina). Using a theoretical framework which draws on Jungian concepts and the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir, the study analyses women’s individuation trajectories at each stage of life. Throughout, Fleutiaux’s depictions are shown to pose a challenge to existing conceptions of womanhood and individuality, thus opening up new understandings of what it means to be a woman, and to be human.
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I started my research on Fleutiaux’s work in 2004 and this book is thus the product of more than ten years of research and writing. I am tremendously grateful to everyone who has encouraged me during this season of my life.

I would like especially to thank Mary Orr for her consistent support, advice, encouragement and inspiration, both as the supervisor of my PhD and as an academic mentor and friend. Her insights and questions have enriched the whole project. Thank you also to Jennifer Birkett, Loraine Day and Gill Rye for their astute feedback at different stages, and to Pierrette Fleutiaux for her reflections on her work. I would also like to thank Martin Sorrell for his comments on my early translations of Fleutiaux’s texts, Zosia Beckles for help tracking down pre-Internet book reviews and articles, my copy-editor Mary Rigby, and Jennifer Speake for her work on the Index. Financial assistance for my PhD was provided in the form of a one-year Graduate Teaching Assistantship from the University of Exeter, for which I am very grateful. A special thank you to Bridget Sealey for her friendship and academic support throughout this project.

I would like to thank my consultancy clients, whose business has both funded and strengthened my research.

Finally, thank you to all my friends and to my family, and especially to my parents Andrew and Sue Sercombe, for their faithful love and support.

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