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Quand la folie parle

The Dialectic Effect of Madness in French Literature since the Nineteenth Century

Editor(s): Gillian Ni Cheallaigh, Laura Jackson, Siobhán McIlvanney

Book Description

Quand la folie parle presents a timely reinvigoration of the complex subject of madness and its literary manifestations. This stimulating study, authored by a range of young and talented international scholars, is of key importance in defining and refining our ongoing endeavours to theorise and analyse the literary representations of the problematics of mental health. By including discussions of texts that speak of madness as well as those that speak from madness, this volume demonstrates that, in fact, the non-sense of madness achieves a force of expression often more powerful than the usual order of logic. Embracing the scientific, the religious, the medical, the psychoanalytic, the historical, the erotic, and, of course, the properly literary, this wide-ranging, historically-informed collection is particularly significant in its exploration of both the “madwoman” and the “madman,” and exhibits an inclusiveness which extends to the genres and modes of the texts examined. The authors discussed, from Nerval and Houellebecq to NDiaye and Lê, provide a refreshingly “balanced” picture of mental illness, presenting madness or depression as a contestatory, creative stance against often mind-numbing social, racial or consumerist conventions, while refusing to play down the inevitable difficulties accompanying this isolating condition. The “dialectic effect” referenced in the title of the collection extends not only to the dynamics at work within the volume itself, as the different contributions implicitly dialogue with one another, but equally to the reader of these essays, who is engaged throughout in the debates put forward.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5398-9
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5398-4
Date of Publication: 01/02/2014
Pages / Size: 235 / A5
Price: £44.99


Gillian Ni Cheallaigh is a final-year doctoral candidate at King’s College London. Her thesis focuses on the figure of the madwoman and suicide in women-authored French novels of the 20th and 21st centuries, in particular Simone de Beauvoir, Emma Santos and Linda Lê.

Laura Jackson is a final-year doctoral candidate at Queen Mary, University of London. Her thesis focuses on how écriture féminine’s celebratory model of the hysteric is developed and complicated in more recent representations of hysterical female bodies in contemporary women’s writing in French.

Dr Siobhán McIlvanney is Senior Lecturer in the Department of French at King’s College London. She has a particular interest in Franco-Algerian women’s writing, including works produced by Maïssa Bey, Leïla Marouane and Malika Mokeddem, and has published extensively in the field of contemporary French women’s writing.