Research Article


DOI :10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008   IUP :10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008    Full Text (PDF)

Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux

Eylem Aksoy Alp

Annie Ernaux is one of the French successors of Simone de Beauvoir, whose work and ideas have greatly influenced her. Reading The Second Sex (Le Deuxième Sexe) was a revelation for Annie Ernaux, who wisely refers to this text several times throughout her work. A resemblance both at formal and thematic levels can be distinguished in several of their books. As for the female question, we see throughout the reading of A Frozen Woman (La Femme gelée) by Annie Ernaux, the echo, even the traces, of The Woman Destroyed (La Femme rompue) by Simone de Beauvoir. What could be the reason for a writer to choose – seemingly voluntarily – content previously covered by another? Much more than tackling the same topics to update them, women’s writing seems to resume, even repeat itself when dealing (from a new angle), with women’s issues that are far from being acquired. In this article, two books of the two authors dealing with the female question will be compared from the point of view of intertextuality and female writing with the aim of understanding the process of rewriting that is revealed in the work of female authors.

DOI :10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008   IUP :10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008    Full Text (PDF)

La récriture au féminin : La Femme rompue de Simone de Beauvoir et La Femme gelée d’Annie Ernaux

Eylem Aksoy Alp

Annie Ernaux fait partie de la génération d’écrivaines françaises qui a succédé Simone de Beauvoir dont l’œuvre et les idées l’ont influencée largement. La lecture de Le Deuxième Sexe en particulier est une vraie révélation pour Annie Ernaux qui le cite à bon escient à plusieurs reprises tout au long de son œuvre. Nous distinguons une ressemblance aussi bien au niveau formel qu’au niveau thématique entre plusieurs de leurs livres. Quant à la question féminine, nous percevons tout au long de la lecture de La Femme gelée d’Annie Ernaux l’écho, voire les traces, de La Femme rompue de Simone de Beauvoir. Quelle pourrait être la raison pour une écrivaine de choisir, semble-t-il volontairement, le contenu déjà traité par une autre précédemment ? Bien plus que d’aborder les mêmes sujets afin de les actualiser, l’écriture féminine semble se reprendre, voire se répéter afin de traiter sous un nouvel angle des questions féminines loin d’être acquises. Nous essayerons dans notre article de comparer les deux livres traitant de la question féminine des deux auteures du point de vue de l’intertextualité et de l’écriture féminine afin de comprendre ce processus de récriture qui apparaît chez les femmes-auteures. 


EXTENDED ABSTRACT


Annie Ernaux, born in 1940 and having published her first book in 1974, is one of the French successors of Simone de Beauvoir. If there is one author who has shaped her mind, it is undoubtedly Simone de Beauvoir, whom she knew through her readings, particularly during her university studies of modern literature. This relationship is especially apparent considering that Ernaux cites Beauvoir several times in her works and reading The Second Sex (Le Deuxième Sexe) in particular seems to be a real revelation and “an opening onto the world” for Annie Ernaux (Ernaux, 2007, p. 27). From the perspective of intertextuality, we note a similarity both formally and thematically between several works by the two authors. Both Simone de Beauvoir’s A Very Easy Death (Une mort très douce, 1964) and Annie Ernaux’s I Remain in Darkness (Je ne suis pas sortie de ma nuit, 1997) deal with the illness and death of the mothers of the two authornarrators. Both in Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (Mémoires d’une jeune fille rangée, 1958) and in Annie Ernaux’s A Gilrl’s Story (Mémoire de fille, 2016), the two authors deal with their youth and their very choice of titles seem to openly mark the connection between these two books. As for the female question, throughout the reading of Annie Ernaux’s A Frozen Woman (La Femme gelée, 1981) we notice the echo of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Women Destroyed (La Femme rompue, 1967). In the latter, Beauvoir writes a triptych in which she stages three fictional women, destroyed by marriage and/or motherhood, which seems to be a way of warning her female readers against the trap that society could set for them. Alongside this, Ernaux deals with her own marriage to a bourgeois executive in a tone of confession and in an ironic and derisive way. Ernaux writes her book to share her journey as a woman through her personal becoming and development. Through this narrative, she wants to show that in order to gain awareness of her minority situation as a woman in relation to men, she must go through the situation faced by the majority of women. Contrary to Beauvoirian women, who are frozen in a situation of total destabilization, Ernausian woman is subject to a liberation from her situation. 

We can thus ask ourselves what could be the reason for a writer to choose – voluntarily – subjects already dealt with previously by another writer? In this context, it would be appropriate to focus on intertextuality, and women’s literature in particular. Indeed, in addition to taking up the same topics to update them, women’s writing is reinstated, even to repeat itself, to tackle female questions far from being acquired from a new angle. Moreover, this conception shows a parallelism with Annie Ernaux’s conception of literature in general, according to which, literature would be constantly moving and evolving. In addition to quoting Simone de Beauvoir and her works, while maintaining the content and sometimes even echoing the titles, Annie Ernaux takes on the challenge of rewriting works modelled on them, taking each time care to adapt them to her own generation and socio-cultural condition. Indeed, it is through writing that the Ernausian “frozen woman” frees herself from her situation in the same way that Annie Ernaux carries the torch of the Beauvoirian feminist denunciation by means of her rewritten and reinterpreted work.

In this article, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Women Destroyed and Annie Ernaux’s A Frozen Woman, two works dealing with the feminine question, will be compared from the point of view of intertextuality and women’s writing in order not only to understand this process of rewriting among women-authors but also to show how literature is renewed through this process. We can finally deduce that women’s reworking and rewriting are effective ways to consolidate the feminist theses found in women writers’ books. Thus, intertextuality in women’s writing, far from being a simple imitation, may assume the continuity of women’s literature, where each woman author might contribute not only to her own future, but also to other women’s future. 


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APA

Aksoy Alp, E. (2022). Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, 32(1), 457-476. https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008


AMA

Aksoy Alp E. Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies. 2022;32(1):457-476. https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008


ABNT

Aksoy Alp, E. Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, [Publisher Location], v. 32, n. 1, p. 457-476, 2022.


Chicago: Author-Date Style

Aksoy Alp, Eylem,. 2022. “Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux.” Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies 32, no. 1: 457-476. https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008


Chicago: Humanities Style

Aksoy Alp, Eylem,. Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux.” Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies 32, no. 1 (Dec. 2022): 457-476. https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008


Harvard: Australian Style

Aksoy Alp, E 2022, 'Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux', Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 457-476, viewed 5 Dec. 2022, https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008


Harvard: Author-Date Style

Aksoy Alp, E. (2022) ‘Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux’, Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, 32(1), pp. 457-476. https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008 (5 Dec. 2022).


MLA

Aksoy Alp, Eylem,. Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux.” Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, vol. 32, no. 1, 2022, pp. 457-476. [Database Container], https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008


Vancouver

Aksoy Alp E. Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies [Internet]. 5 Dec. 2022 [cited 5 Dec. 2022];32(1):457-476. Available from: https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008 doi: 10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008


ISNAD

Aksoy Alp, Eylem. Women’s Rewriting: The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir and A Frozen Woman by Annie Ernaux”. Litera: Journal of Language, Literature and Culture Studies 32/1 (Dec. 2022): 457-476. https://doi.org/10.26650/LITERA2022-1060008



TIMELINE


Submitted19.01.2022
Accepted25.04.2022
Published Online17.05.2022

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