Affaires de famille : the family in contemporary French by Welch, Edward; Barnet, Marie-Claire

By Welch, Edward; Barnet, Marie-Claire

'Famille, je vous ai (encore et toujours a l'esprit?), je vous aime un peu, beaucoup, ou je vous hais enormement?' What are households like in modern France? And what starts to emerge after we think about them from the viewpoint of modern theoretical views: (faulty) team spirit, (fake) coherence, (carefully deliberate or subversive) deconstruction, loss (of love, self assurance or credibility), or, even (utter) chaos and (alarming) confusion? Which media revamp previous stereotypes, generate replacement reinterpretations, and suggest extra ambiguous solutions? What photos, scenes or frames stand out in modern representations of the relations? Uneasy contradictions and ambiguities emerge during this bilingual number of techniques and style stories. The family members plot turns out to thicken as relations ties seem to loosen. Has 'the kin' been misplaced from sight, or is it being reinvented in our collective imaginary? This ebook proposes a brand new sequence of views and questions about an outdated and 'familiar' subject, exploring the nation and standing of the family members in modern literature, tradition, serious and psychoanalytic concept and sociology

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Darrieussecq Darrieussecq’s experimental family tragedy Bref séjour chez les vivants covers 24 hours in the life of the diasporic Johnson family, deploying innovative stream-of-consciousness techniques 17 and harnessing them to interrogate the structure of the contemporary family ‘en désordre’. An elaborate experiment with time, consciousness and perception, it gives us access to a series of private attempts on the part of four of its members (a mother and her three grown-up daughters) to hold together the idea of the family against all the odds.

The aïeule reproaches Fanny for resorting to any ‘bassesse’, any ‘mutilation’, in order to be accepted, but she lets the cat out of the bag when she says that what Fanny fails to recognise is that the villagers would do anything to reject her, so strong, so hearltfelt, is their ‘exécration de toute forme d‘étrangeté’ (EF 293). Giving up the attempt to get the hang of all this, Fanny chooses a more total abjection and otherness. Reverting to her original name (which the elegant French prose still denies to the reader), she appears to become a village prostitute.

In Fanny’s case, inheriting this trait from her mother inspires the romantic mission to recognise ‘l’imperfection de sa naissance’ and to seek ‘à se faire pardonner et à racheter par son humilité déférente la négligence de ses parents’ (EF 108), yet she is blind to the fact that – in the eyes of the family – the real negligence of Fanny’s parents was the act of procreation that brought Fanny into existence in the first place. En famille pivots on a chapter, improbably set in a rowing boat on a lake (the chapter contains numerous parodic allusions to the conventional spaces, modes of address, and familial preoccupations of nineteenth-century fiction) where Tante Colette voices the family’s grievances at Fanny’s meddling, and informs her that she is to be ostracised.

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