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Strange Adventures

Women’s Individuation in the Works of Pierrette Fleutiaux

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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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Chapter 4: Relating (to) the Other in Nous sommes éternels and Les Amants imparfaits

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CHAPTER 4

Relating (to) the Other in Nous sommes éternels and Les Amants imparfaits

Mon frère était mon espace.

My brother was my space.

— PIERRETTE FLEUTIAUX1

If the integration of the Mother archetypal image was essential to inner wholeness in Des phrases courtes, it is also, as Jung observes, crucial to the ability to maintain a successful romantic relationship. The integration of power that has unwittingly been projected onto parents is a significant step in liberating the individual into being able to deal with their animus projections – the idealized image of a romantic partner. The unwinding of deeply entrenched animus projections is a crucial feature of Nous sommes éternels, and the failure to properly deal with this process casts a long shadow over the young women protagonists of Les Amants imparfaits. In Nous sommes éternels, Estelle/Claire2 writes her ‘opera’ in order to bring to light the truth of her relationship with her (supposed) brother Dan (among others) so that she can live fully her new life with Phil. In Les Amants imparfaits, Raphaël ← 189 | 190 → writes to wrest his story from the jurors and other players in his murder trial by offering his own interpretation of the cold facts presented, in order to achieve his ‘stature d’homme’ [full stature as a man] (AI, p. 171). That Les Amants is written from Raphaël’s perspective might lead to questioning its place within a work on womanhood....

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