Enchanted Eloquence: Fairy Tales by Seventeenth–Century French Women Writers is a superb book on all levels. The translations of the tales are excellent. The research is impeccable. The introduction and notes are highly informative. Most important, Lewis Seifert and Domna Stanton have focused on unusual fairy tales that have never been translated before and are seminal for understanding the development of the literary fairy tale as genre. French women writers played a central role in the institutionalization of a literary genre in the French civilizing process that had huge ramifications in opera, theater, vaudeville, music, and film. Moreover, their tales influenced other writers of fairy tales in Europe. This book does an honor to their creative efforts and provides the basis for further research on the development of European fairy tales.
Professor of German, Emeritus, University of Minnesota
In late seventeenth-century France the conte de fees, or fairy tale, became a fashionable new genre. Although literary history subsequently privileged Charles Perrault’s Mother Goose Tales, it was in fact the conteuses, sophisticated and ironic women writers, who not only inaugurated the vogue, but in fact produced 68 of the 112 tales published between 1690 and 1709. In their Introduction, Seifert and Stanton show how these female authors experimented with various forms of fiction and celebrated women’s writing, while also criticizing the oppressions of marriage and the social strictures placed on their sex. This collection of eight fairy tales by the most prominent conteuses (Catherine Bernard, Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy, Charlotte-Rose de La Force, Marie-Jeanne L'Hériter de Villandon, and Henriette-Julie de Murat), most of which have never before been translated into English, also includes two critical texts, one that praises the conte de fées, the other that denounces it. The texts in this volume bring to life major debates of the early-modern period, including the querelle des femmes and the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns.
LEWIS C. SEIFERT is professor of French Studies at Brown University. A specialist of seventeenth–century French literature, he has also worked extensively on folk– and fairy tales. He is the author of Fairy Tales, Sexuality, and Gender in France, 1690-1715: Nostalgic Utopias (1996) and Manning the Margins: Masculinity and Writing in Seventeenth-Century France (2009). He is currently pursuing projects on friendship in early modern France and on folktale traditions in the French–speaking Americas.
DOMNA C. STANTON, Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center, CUNY, is the co–editor of the volume on Gabrielle Suchon for The Other Voice: Chicago series, and the author of Women Writ, Women Writing: Gendered Discourse and Differences in Seventeenth–Century France, forthcoming, 2011. Her next book, The Nation as its Others, examines nation building during the reign of Louis XIV. Stanton was the editor of PMLA 1992–1997 and President of the Modern Language Association in 2005.
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