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Literature and/or reality?
Marion Sadoux

From her very first novel, Vu du ciel, which was published in 1990, Christine Angot has established herself firmly as a writer who has made it her mission to explore and expose relentlessly the thin line between reality and fiction. The last quarter of the twentieth century, in French literature, will probably be remembered, among other things, as the period in which a new genre, that of autofiction, emerged and flourished. Many literary theorists have long claimed that the meeting point between fiction and autobiography, which so strongly shapes contemporary self-representational aesthetics, is a fundamental area of women's writing. Both the fantastic and autofiction function as border or frontier genres which borrow elements from other related genres, and autofictions are not necessarily limited to borrowings from autobiography. Autofictions are also potentially subversive in a similar way to fantastic literature, as Rosemary Jackson identifies.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
Open Access (free)
Jonathan Atkin

In her Society at War (1931), the social analyst Caroline Playne concluded that the experience of thinkers and artists who had languished under the Great War was just as real as that of the shattered soldiers. The Bloomsbury Group, perhaps typically, reacted to the Great War on an individual basis. Other people also based their objection to the conflict on aesthetic or humanistic grounds, and did so from a wider cross-section of the cultural landscape. Although most of these people were from the educated middle classes, similarly linked anti-war feelings occurred throughout the war and beyond, and emanated from differing contexts; from the equally well known to the obscure, from male to female and from those who fought to those who did not. With the advent of the Great War, conflicts of morality ensued. Those who volunteered for military service in the early months of the war voluntarily laid down individualistic claims for a variety of reasons, not least due to the pull of pre-war collectivist patriotism and a resulting sense of moral duty.

in A war of individuals
Open Access (free)
Gill Rye and Michael Worton

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book focuses on various aspects of the subject and identity as they are conceived and represented in contemporary women's writing in France. Fears and fantasies are material reality in Marie Darrieussecq's novels of women in crisis, in the literalisation of metaphors pertaining to women's bodies, in the undercurrents of presence and absence, and in the void at the heart of emotional relationships. A recurrent theme in Clotilde Escalle's novels is the difficult relationships her female protagonists have with their mothers, and it is striking how frequently variations on the mother-daughter theme. The modern trend for self-referentiality in literature means that the writing self is also clearly manifested and, indeed, foregrounded in the work of a significant number of the contemporary French women writers.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
The plays of Ed Thomas and the cultural politics of South Wales
Shaun Richards

The reference to Max Boyce in the title of Ed Thomas's 1997 article, 'A land fit for heroes' captures the image which he wishes to dispel: the caricature of Welshness whose soft sentimentality eases away the necessity of self-analysis. The thrust of Thomas's argument is that a people can only live in, and live up to, the images of themselves which circulate in the culture. Negative or disempowering stereotypes are an integral part of political and cultural colonialism. By the time of the film production in 1997, however, not only had Welsh culture taken on a different tone from that defined by Harry Secombe but Thomas's attitude to his native culture had consequently modified. Thomas's dramas are essentially domestic rather than social, his characters frequently traumatised by the deaths of parents or siblings with the social and economic dimensions to those tragedies.

in Across the margins
Open Access (free)
A male strategy
Soili-Maria Olli

The concept of the Devil's pact was a prominent theme in early modern European theology. Central to the debate was the idea that witches and magical practitioners of all types gained their powers from selling their soul to the Devil. The Devil's pact was considered the gravest of crimes and was punishable by death. The Devil's pact trials highlight the differing conceptions of female and male satanic relationships, and the way in which that fundamental tool of the Enlightenment enabled a wider section of society to engage with Satan rather than reject him. The characteristics of male contact with the Devil differed significantly from perceptions at the time of female relationships with the Devil, whether in the context of witchcraft or possession. Witchcraft accusations apart, women actually resorted to the Devil for personal gain, but adopted a different strategy from that of men, which was consequently open to different interpretation.

in Beyond the witch trials
Sabine Doering-Manteuffel and Stephan Bachter

This chapter examines the nature and dissemination of the Zauberbücher or grimoires, which contained instructions to restore health, to reverse the effects of witchcraft and love spells and to safeguard and increase material wealth. Although there are some truths in the classic version of the Enlightenment there is reason to give it only partial credence, as the study of supernatural literature of the period demonstrates. In the shadows cast by the light of the Enlightenment, the transmission of magical knowledge was easier than ever before, and its impact far-reaching, with ripples reaching us today in the form of the current popularity of esoteric literature. The chapter considers the influence the burgeoning German magic media market had in America. Belief in miracles, magic knowledge and fortune-telling were exploited in the new market, and the more literature that was printed in general, the more magic and occult literature was also printed.

in Beyond the witch trials
Nicola McDonald

Western culture has always treated the eating of human flesh as taboo. Reluctant or not, cannibals evoke fear, loathing or, at best, horrified pity. No fourteenth-century English cook is known to have prepared for consumption the flesh of a real Turk, yet the Turk's Head, a sweet-and- sour meat pie shaped and decorated to resemble the outlandish features of a stereotyped Saracen, was a familiar late medieval dish. Richard Coeur de Lion, a romance whose medieval popularity is well attested, arrests modern readers with the spectacle of its man-eating king. Duped into mistaking a cooked Saracen for pork, the ailing Richard devours a dish of boiled flesh, faster than his steward can carve, and gnaws on the bones.

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
David Colclough

The New Atlantis is a text about natural philosophy which seems to offer connections at almost every point with moral and political philosophy. Francis Bacon's had shown himself willing and able to treat what he considered the most pressing issues of political and ethical theory and practical negotiation. Markku Peltonen stresses that the repeated identification of Bacon's philosophical with his political thought relies upon a 'rhetorical similarity'. Bensalem, the island conforms, as it soon becomes clear in the New Atlantis, to virtually all of Bacon's social and political criteria for the reform of knowledge. Bensalem's use of the Merchants of Light represents the proper Baconian relationship of the present to the past, and of the natural philosopher to his 'ancient' forebears. In the New Atlantis, the practice of science appears to be kept institutionally and geographically separate from politics, with considerable autonomy being given to the scientific community.

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis
Open Access (free)
Memory and identity in Marie Redonnet’s fiction of the 1990s
Aine Smith

The body of writing produced by Marie Redonnet between 1985 and 2000 is an unusually coherent one. The artistic endeavour is a recurrent feature of Redonnet's texts. From Doublures, with its cast of costume-makers, toy-makers, acrobats and performers, right through to Villa Rosa, whose eponymous villa is a haven for painters, dancers and musicians, the desire to invent and create impels a vast array of characters. In many cases of a veritable compulsion, the creative act is seen by Redonnet's characters as a means of generating identity, or, at the very least, of elaborating a fuller, more cohesive and enduring sense of self than that which originally exists. In Candy story and Villa Rosa, self-portraiture is a common pursuit, whilst photography, and its correlative of film-making, feature in the texts Rose Mélie Rose, Candy story, Le Cirque Pandor and Fort Gambo.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
Open Access (free)
A late eighteenth-century Dutch witch doctor and his clients
Willem de Blécourt

In eighteenth-century Drenthe witchcraft was punishable in three ways: for publicly identifying suspected witches, for consulting specialists in the field of unwitching, and for practising as a fortune-teller or witch doctor. This chapter utilizes a local case study to chart the complex of expressions and actions concerning witchcraft and, through the reconstruction of the social, economical and political backgrounds of those involved. The name of the methodological trap is 'superstition' and its character is an often undeclared but determining element in the history of witchcraft studies. The self-educated Dutch folklorist, Tiesing, writing in 1913, tackled the problem openly. Evil people belonged to 'strange folks', people whom one could meet outside, 'outside the door' and to whom entrance could be refused. For judicial verdicts people had to rely on the Etstoel, which was established in Assen. Nevertheless, citizenships were sold in Meppel for five guilders and twelve stivers a person.

in Beyond the witch trials