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Isabelle de Charrière and the universality of French language


From the time of her youth in the Netherlands, Belle de Zuylen had chosen French as her writing language. Yet, this paper argues, she cannot be regarded simply as a French writer. If her place in the canon of French literature fulfils the requirements of our critical discourse for recognition, this hard-earned place has the disadvantage of concealing the changing nature of her adherence to French as well as the strong ties that bound her to her native country and to Switzerland. This paper presents some of the elements we must bear in mind in order to grasp the complexity of her cultural positioning. While she developed as a writer using the language of Voltaire, Isabelle de Charrière was loyal to the cultural minorities with which she identified herself. One can say she was truly delighted and inspired by cultural diversity.

SvD, July 2008

  • Publications > Volumes WomenWriters > Isabelle de Charrière > Valérie Cossy

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