The best way to digest yule log and eggnog and get your brain out of hibernation mode is to have some literature to get you thinking. Here are some French feminist titles translated into English, offering insightful observations on French society during the 20th and 21st centuries.
1. The second sex (The second sex) — Simone de Beauvoir
This is one of the top feminist texts to read at some point in your life – the sooner the better. It was groundbreaking writing at the time, analyzing and critiquing the Western idea of ”woman”, as well as the inequality between two of the sexes (male and female).
Beauvoir’s frustration is on full display here, which is understandable considering that she started writing in 1946, when French women had just won the right to vote and birth control was to be illegal during another 20 years. — Get it here in English on Amazon
2. An apartment on Uranus: Chronicles of the crossing (An apartment on Uranus) —Paul B. Preciado
Uranism is a concept first coined by writer Karl Heinrich Ulrich in 1864, which describes a third sex and the way of life of those who “love differently”. This is the starting point for Preciado’s memoir (in essay form), as he develops the concept of imagining living free from all gender and political constraints.
While the book cleverly explores Preciado’s transition from Beatriz to Paul, it goes far beyond gender transition, exploring the role of museums in shaping trans culture and the modern technological appropriation of women’s wombs. . — Get it here in English on Amazon
3. The lesbian body (The Lesbian Body) — Monique Wittig
The lesbian bodyalso called The Guerrillas, is Monique Wittig’s most popular selling title. But approach this one with a very open mind because it’s also one of his more abstract writings. Satisfaction comes from recognizing that the gender-defying format successfully reflects the many lesbian feminist struggles against patriarchal oppression.
Pieces of this date poorly, such as the use of slavery as a metaphor in white feminist writing, but there are several interesting theories that stand the test of time. — Get it here in English on Amazon
4. Look back (Reverse diary) — Colette
Looking back contains two volumes of personal essays by Colette, many of which were unpublished at the time of release. We find in some glimpses of Colette as a child, as well as her departure and then her return to an occupied Paris following the Second World War. His observations of the city at the time include being poor and having to survive tactically, opinions on fashion, and recipes included in his newspaper articles.
A gentle reading full of observations from an outstanding French charmer. — Get it here in English on Amazon
5. The promise of a winter (The Mirror Pass Series, Volume 1 of the Mirror Visitor Quartet) — Christelle Dabos
This award-winning fantasy fiction series has taken France by storm, with recent excitement surrounding the release of the fourth and final book in the series.
Enter a universe of floating “ark” cities, each with its own complex societal system. Ophelia must leave her house for another ark, as part of an arranged marriage. The world-building here is strong – intricate but not so deep that you get bogged down in detail – and Ophelia is a wonderful heroine to support. — Get it here in English on Amazon
6. The girl who reads in the subway (The girl who read in the subway) — Christine Feret-Fleury
This charming fairy tale is a love letter to books and perfect for anyone looking for an escape. Juliette lives in Paris and half-heartedly plows her trade in real estate, until one day she gets off at the wrong metro station and stumbles upon a mysterious bookstore that matches books with the people who need them most. Enter a host of charming characters who bring some much-needed magic into Juliet’s life. — Get it here in English on Amazon
7. The lady and the little fox fur (The woman with the little fox) — Violette Leduc
A beautiful story that follows a solitary and destitute sexagenarian who lives in Paris, in a tiny apartment on the top floor. Subjects such as disappointment, loneliness and hunger are handled with sensitivity and compassion under Leduc’s skillful calligraphy.
Paris turns out to be a parallel character and not just a pretty backdrop, displaying a range of emotions and bouncing off the protagonist’s behavior. — Get it here in English on Amazon
8. Years (The Years) — Annie Ernaux
A fascinating journey through the changing culture of France, exploring abortion rights, consumerism, immigration and unemployment, Years is an autobiography, from the birth of the author in 1940 in a working-class family, until 2006. Ernaux mainly uses the collective “we”, sometimes passing to the third person “she”, thus going against the ancient and sexist rhetoric that women’s writing dealt only with domestic or romantic issues. — Get it here in English on Amazon
9. Sunday and Other Stories (Sunday) — Irène Némirovsky
If social class sightings are your thing, you should get your hands on this gem-like short story collection ASAP. Written between 1934 and 1942, Némirovsky beautifully captures the tense mother-daughter dynamic, the power struggles between husband and wife, as well as the behavior of the French bourgeoisie before.
Against the backdrop of Parisian bars and apartments, before addressing the life of French men and women during the Second World War, it is the exquisite writing of a woman at the height of her career, so tragically cut short. — Get it here in English on Amazon
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