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Violence in French and Francophone Literature and Film

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Stories of violence — such as the account in Genesis of Cain’s jealousy and murder of Abel — have been with us since the time of the earliest recorded texts. Undeniably, the scourge of violence fascinates, confounds, and saddens. What are its uses in literature — its appeal, forms, and consequences? Anchored by Alice Kaplan’s substantial contribution, the thirteen articles in this volume cover diverse epochs, lands, and motives. One scholar ponders whether accounts of Huguenot martyrdom in the sixteenth-century might suggest more pride than piety. Another assesses the real versus the true with respect to a rape scene in The Heptameron. Female violence in fairy tales by Madame d’Aulnoy points to gender politics and the fragility of female solidarity, while another article examines similar issues in the context of Ananda Devi’s works in present-day Mauritius. Other studies address the question of sadism in Flaubert, the unstable point of view of Emmanuel Carrère’s L’Adversaire, the ambivalence toward violence in Chamoiseau’s Texaco, the notions of “terror” and “tabula rasa” in the writings of Blanchot, the undoing of traditions of narrative continuity and authority in the 1998 film, À vendre, and consequences of the power differential in a repressive Haiti as depicted in the film Vers le Sud (2005). Paradoxes emerge in several studies of works where victims may become perpetrators, or vice versa.

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