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Writers and Heroines

Essays on Women in French Literature

Shirley Jones-Day

These nine essays examine the image of women in French literature from the early fifteenth century of Christine de Pizan to the late eighteenth century of Isabelle de Charrière. While the seminal importance of La Princesse de Clèves in the canon of women's writing is indicated by its being discussed in three of the articles, the interactive nature of men's and women's writing is revealed in the remarkable literary heroines created by Guilleragues and Crébillon fils. The aim of the volume is to open doors of discussion, not only on to periods of literature where the woman writer remains a shadowy figure, but also between different periods of literature and different critical approaches to the question of women as writers and heroines.
Contents: Annette Lavers: Introduction. From footnote to mainstream – Rosalind Brown-Grant: Christine de Pizan (c. 1364-1431). 'Hee! Quel Honneur au Femenin Sexe!': Female heroism in Christine de Pizan's Ditié de Jehanne d'Arc – Jonathan Mallinson: Guilleragues (1628-85). Writing wrongs: Lettres portugaises and the search for an identity – Michael Moriarty: Madame de Lafayette (1634-93). Decision, desire, and asymmetry in La Princesse de Clèves – Shirley Jones Day: Madame d'Aulnoy (c. 1650-1705). Madame d'Aulnoy's Julie: a heroine of the 1690s – Judith Beale: Robert Challe (1659-1721). Angel or Sylph? The two-faced woman in Les Illustres Françaises – René Démoris: Crébillon fils (1707-77). Parole de femme dans les Egarements du cœur et de l'esprit, de Crébillon fils – Patricia Louette: Madame de Tencin (1682-1749). Quelques aspects de la singularité féminine chez Mme de Tencin: les coulisses de la vertu – Martin Hall: Madame de Tencin (1682-1749) / Madame de Beaumont (1729-83). Re-writing La Princesse de Clèves: the Anecdotes de la cour et du règne d'Edouard II – C. P. Courtney: Madame de CharriCharrière / Belle de Zuylen (1740-1805). Construction of identity in the correspondence of Belle de Zuylen.