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Use this guide for help with your French courses and assignments.
The story of silk is an old and familiar one, a tale involving mercantile travel and commercial exchange along the broad land mass that connects ancient China to the west and extending eventually to sites on the eastern Mediterranean and along sea routes to India. But if we shift our focus from economic histories that chart the exchange of silk along Asian and Mediterranean trade routes to medieval literary depictions of silk, a strikingly different picture comes into view. In Old French literary texts from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, emphasis falls on production rather than trade and on female protagonists who make, decorate, and handle silk. Sea of Silk maps a textile geography of silk work done by these fictional women. Situated in northern France and across the medieval Mediterranean, from Saint-Denis to Constantinople, from North Africa to Muslim Spain, and even from the fantasy realm of Arthurian romance to the historical silkworks of the Norman kings in Palermo, these medieval heroines provide important glimpses of distant economic and cultural geographies. E. Jane Burns argues, in brief, that literary portraits of medieval heroines who produce and decorate silk cloth or otherwise manipulate items of silk outline a metaphorical geography that includes France as an important cultural player in the silk economics of the Mediterranean. Within this literary sea of silk, female protagonists who "work" silk in a variety of ways often deploy it successfully as a social and cultural currency that enables them to traverse religious and political barriers while also crossing lines of gender and class.
The 1990s witnessed an explosion in women's writing in France, with a particularly exciting new generation of writer's coming to the fore, such as Christine Angot, Marie Darrieussecq and Regine Detambel. Other authors such as Paule Constant, Sylvie Germain, Marie Redonnet and Leila Sebbar, who had begun publishing in the 1980s, claimed their mainstream status in the 1990s with new texts. The book provides an up-to-date introduction to an analysis of new women's writing in contemporary France, including both new writers of the 1990s and their more established counter-parts. The editors' incisive introduction situates these authors and their texts at the centre of the current trends and issues concerning French literary production today, whilst fifteen original essays focus on individual writers. The volume includes specialist bibliographies on each writer, incorporating English translations, major interviews, and key critical studies. Quotations are given in both French and English throughout. An invaluable study resource, this book is written in a clear and accessible style and will be of interest to the general reader as well as to students of all levels, to teachers of a wide range of courses on French culture, and to specialist researchers of French and Francophone literature.
This volume is the first study of the diary in French writing across the twentieth century, as a genre which includes both fictional and non-fictional works. From the 1880s it became apparent to writers in France that their diaries--a supposedly private form of writing --would probably come to be published, strongly affecting the way their readers viewed their other published works, and their very persona as an author. More than any other, Andre Gide embraced the literary potential of the diary: the first part of this book follows his experimentation with the diary in the fictional works Les Cahiers d'Andre Walter (1891) and Paludes (1895), in his diary of the composition of his great novel, Le Journal des faux-monnayeurs (1926), and in his monumental Journal 1889-1939 (1939). The second part follows developments in diary-writing after the Second World War, inflected by radical changes in attitudes towards the writing subject. Raymond Queneau's works published under the pseudonym of Sally Mara (1947-1962) used the diary playfully at a time when the writing subject was condemned by the literary avant-garde. Roland Barthes's experiments with the diary (1977-1979) took it to the extremes of its formal possibilities, at the point of a return of the writing subject. Annie Ernaux's published diaries (1993-2011) demonstrate the role of the diary in the modern field of life-writing. Throughout the century, the diary has repeatedly been used to construct an oeuvre and author, but also to call these fundamental literary concepts into question.
The city of Paris experienced rapid transformation in the middle of the nineteenth century: the population grew, industry and commerce increased, and barriers between social classes diminished. Innovations in printing and distribution gave rise to new mass-market genres: literary guidebooks known as tableaux de Paris and illustrated physiologies examined urban social types and fashions for a broad audience of Parisians hungry to explore and understand their changing society. The works in this volume offer a lively, humorous tour of the manners and characters of the flâneur (a leisurely wanderer), the grisette (a young working-class woman), the gamin (a street urchin), and more. While authors such as Paul de Kock are little known today, their works still open a window onto a vivid time and place.
Among the Jewish writers who emigrated from Eastern Europe to France in the 1910s and 1920s, a number chose to switch from writing in their languages of origin to writing primarily in French, a language that represented both a literary center and the promises of French universalism. But under the Nazi occupation of France from 1940 to 1944, these Jewish émigré writers--among them Irène Némirovsky, Benjamin Fondane, Romain Gary, Jean Malaquais, and Elsa Triolet--continued to write in their adopted language, even as the Vichy regime and Nazi occupiers denied their French identity through xenophobic and antisemitic laws. In this book, Julia Elsky argues that these writers reexamined both their Jewishness and their place as authors in France through the language in which they wrote. The group of authors Elsky considers depicted key moments in the war from their perspective as Jewish émigrés, including the June 1940 civilian flight from Paris, life in the occupied and southern zones, the roundups and internment camps, and the Resistance in France and in London. Writing in French, they expressed multiple cultural, religious, and linguistic identities, challenging the boundaries between center and periphery, between French and foreign, even when their sense of belonging was being violently denied.
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