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Française, francophone, cosmopolite?


Isabelle de Charrière seems almost impossible to place, insofar as she could be claimed simultaneously by the Netherlands as her country of origin, Switzerland as her adopted homeland and France as her intellectual homeland.
If we take into account her classical education and the language in which she wrote her works, she belongs to the literary, even to the political, history of France. She found a source of inspiration in the French Revolution of 1789, which she followed closely: she tried to play the part of pamphleteer and political analyst, and composed plays which portrayed a topical social type, the emigré. But, sickened by the revolutionaries’ excesses, in particular the murder of the Swiss Guard, she swiftly rejected the French and their Jacobinism. Would she have allowed teachers of literature to declare her a naturalised Frenchwoman?
For a long time she was known in France only as a minor novelist of the second rank. But, thanks to the publication of her Œuvres complètes which led to her rediscovery, a number of texts and a rich correspondence have been published in France since the bicentenary of the Revolution (1989). From now on she belongs to the international pantheon of women writers who fuel feminist studies, particularly in American universities.

SvD, July 2008

  • Publications > Volumes WomenWriters > Isabelle de Charrière > Isabelle Vissière

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