Bibliographic Details

The hysteric's revenge : French women writers at the fin de siècle / Rachel Mesch.

Author / Creator Mesch, Rachel.
Imprint Nashville [Tenn.] : Vanderbilt University Press, c2006.
Description xii, 268 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Language English
Subject French literature -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
French literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
Women and literature -- France -- History -- 19th century.
Women in literature.
French literature.
French literature -- Women authors.
Women and literature.
Women in literature.
Criticism, interpretation, etc.
Format E-Resource, Print, Book
URL for this record
ISBN 0826515304 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780826515308 (cloth : alk. paper)
0826515312 (pbk. : alk. paper)
9780826515315 (pbk. : alk. paper)
Notes Includes bibliographical references (p. 243-256) and index.
Review by Choice Review

This fine book underscores the linkages among late-19th- and early-20th-century discourses--scientific (especially medical), social, religious, and literary. Mesch (Columbia) begins with an examination of the canonical, via Zola's Nana. After a chapter titled "Memoirs of the Fille Publique," she looks at how women used "the master's tools [to] dismantle the master's house" through participation in the naturalist and decadent movements. The final chapter (of five) addresses women's droit au plaisir (Odette Dulac), considering sexuality as self-empowerment. Throughout, Mesch reveals extensive research in the period's medical writing, popular hygiene manuals, and literary criticism, along with familiarity with recent feminist theory. In her carefully reasoned, nuanced analysis, she dialogues with other scholars, never hesitating to explore alternative interpretations. She covers only nine writers, from the celebrated, like Colette, to the neglected, like Lucie Delarue-Mardrus--fewer than does Jennifer Waelti-Walters in her broad survey Feminist Novelists of the Belle Epoque (CH, Nov'90, 28-1487). Mesch begins where Janet Beizer ended her groundbreaking study of hysteria, Ventriloquized Bodies (1994), investigating a later period and focusing on women writers. The present book complements both these studies while acknowledging its debt to them. All three belong in serious literary/cultural collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. A. M. Rea emerita, Occidental College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Choice Review