|Through her innovative application of the concept of "scandal,"
Nathalie Buchet Rogers has brought new life to the subject of women in
the nineteenth-century French novel. This study investigates the nineteenth-century
tendency to mythicize the feminine question, thus transforming everything
related to it, especially feminine sexuality, into fiction. "Scandal,"
which Rogers defines in economic and historical as well as in symbolic
and aesthetic terms, informed most discourses on women--be they political,
scientific, medical, or openly fictional.
In the first part of the study, Rogers asserts that the nineteenth century
was incapable of managing femininity. In the male unconscious, fantasies
of feminine perversion and transgression came to crystallize the main
anxieties that plagued the imagination: among them loss of political,
social, and sexual differences in modern society; fears of degeneration
and disease; and turn-of-the-century Freudian theories of castration.
From an aesthetic point of view, Rogers shows scandalization to be a duplicitous
textual phenomenon which threatens to contaminate and subvert any discourse
that seeks to conquer it. Scandal is thus seen as realism's strongest
thematic temptation as well as its potential aesthetic nemesis.
In the secons part of the study, Rogers examines the dynamics of scandal
in seven novels that focus on female characters: Flaubert's Madame
Bovary, and selected novels by Balzac, Sand, Zola, Barbey d'Aurevilly,
les Goncourt, and Rachilde. Drawing on psychoanalysis, narratology, and
deconstructionist and feminist theory, Rogers contributes to a better
understanding of the strong yet ambivalent ties that link the representation
of feminine energy and desire to realist and naturalist aesthetics.
Fictions du scandale will interest students and scholars of
the French novel, comparative literature, and women's studies.
"Fictions du scandale makes exemplary use of literary
theory to bring new life to the study of Realism, women, and
scandal. Rogers argues in a complex but lucid series of readings
that scandal is the Realist novel's not-so-secret fetish."
Aimée Boutin, Nineteenth-Century French Studies
For the complete review, see Nineteenth-Century French Studies
29.1&2 (Fall-Winter 2000-01): 185-86.
"Calling on the works of theoreticians from René Girard
to Naomi Schor, Rogers manages to give an overview of feminist reworkings
of Freud--theories of perversion, schizophrenia, and hysteria--in a
study at once lively and communicative. Scandal never had it so good."
Mary Ann Caws, Graduate College, CUNY
"Fictions du scandale is an impressive work of scholarship.
Rogers defines her terms precisely, applies them consistently, and justifies
her readings with superb textual examples. In doing so, she provides
a fresh and compelling approach to understanding modern representations
of feminine desire and sexuality." Steven Hartlaub, French Review
For the complete review, see French Review 74.3 (Feb. 2001):
"Son livre analyse un certain nombre de textes non-fictionnels
et fictionnels du XIXe siècle français mettant en
scène des héroïnes victimes et sources de scandale.
… L'ouvrage a l'intérêt de rendre accessible
en français une vision des développements de la
critique américaine dans des perspectives féministe
et psychanalytique, en particulier sur les questions du narcissisme
et du fétichisme au féminin, et de montrer comment
ces problématiques permettent de déplacer la lecture
de textes très connu (Flaubert, Barbey), et de conférer
lisibilité à des oeuvres longtemps dédaignées
(Rachilde)." — Christine Planté, Revue d'Histoire
Littéraire de la France
For the complete text, see Revue d'Histoire Littéraire
de la France 104.4 (Oct.-Dec. 2004): 978-79.
Nathalie Buchet Rogers (d. 2007), Wellesley College, had published
work focused on various aspects of the novel from the eighteenth
to the twentieth centuries as well as on issues relating more specifically
to the nineteenth century, which was her area of specialization.
1-55753-123-4 In French.
1998. Vol. 16. xii, 324 pp. Cloth $29.95 PRICE REDUCED