Marceline Desbordes-Valmore Criticism - Essay

Michael Danahy (essay date 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Marceline Desbordes-Valmore and the Engendered Canon,” in Yale French Studies, Vol. 75, 1988, pp. 129-47.

[In the following essay, Danahy explores Desbordes-Valmore's relationship as a woman writer to the highly gendered poetic canon.]

Les femmes, je le sais, ne doivent pas ecrire;
                                                  J'écris pourtant

—Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (Une Lettre de femme)

Freud thought that all men unconsciously wished to beget themselves, to be their own fathers in place of their phallic fathers and so “rescue” their mothers from erotic degradation. It may not...

(The entire section is 8724 words.)

Michael Danahy (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859),” in French Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Source Book, edited by Eva Martin Sartori and Dorothy Wynne Zimmerman, Greenwood Press, 1988, pp. 121-33.

[In the following essay, Danahy offers a summary of Desbordes-Valmore's life and work.]


Marceline Desbordes was born on June 20, 1786, the fifth of six children in a working-class family. Her father was an artisan whose livelihood came from painting family crests, shields, and coats of arms for members of the aristocracy. When this trade became obsolete as a result of the French Revolution, Desbordes-Valmore's father went bankrupt...

(The entire section is 5600 words.)

Laurence M. Porter (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Poetess or Strong Poet? Gender Stereotypes and the Elegies of Marceline Desbordes-Valmore,” in French Forum, Vol. 18, No. 2, May, 1993, pp. 185-94.

[In the following essay, Porter argues that Desbordes-Valmore's elegies in many cases transcend the gender stereotypes usually associated with female poets of the nineteenth century.]

Naïve, emotional, formally incoherent, limited to personal concerns, and weakened by a dependent attitude: such is the phallocratic stereotype of literature by women. Sophisticated, rational, wide-ranging, formally disciplined, and of broad social significance: such are supposed to be the attributes of “masterpieces” by...

(The entire section is 3920 words.)

Simone D. Ferguson (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Woman as Creator: Marceline Desbordes-Valmore's Transformation of the Lyric,” in Nineteenth Century French Studies, Vol. 21, Nos. 1-2, Fall-Winter, 1993, pp. 57-65.

[In the following essay, Ferguson evaluates Desbordes-Valmore's poetic vision of mothers and children.]

Birth and motherhood have never been universal themes in lyric poetry. For centuries death and sexual love have fired the poet's imagination. Yet, is not birth as powerful an experience as death? And is not the bond between mother and child as profound, as tied to the soul and the flesh, as the love between man and woman? Why have poets been silent about these depths of human experience? Is...

(The entire section is 3080 words.)

Edward K. Kaplan (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Voices of Marceline Desbordes-Valmore: Deference, Self-Assertion, Accountability,” in French Forum, Vol. 22, No. 3, September, 1997, pp. 261-77.

[In the following essay, Kaplan examines gender-related and political themes in Desbordes-Valmore's poetry.]

A focus on the “feminine” versus the “feminist” aspects of Marceline Desbordes-Valmore's poetry introduces the wide range of poetic and political attitudes in French Romanticism. Critical assessments of her works from Sainte-Beuve, through Hugo, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine (who canonized her among his Poètes maudits) tend to view her primarily as a woman (as Eliane Jasenas has shown),...

(The entire section is 5477 words.)

Anne E. McCall (essay date 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Monuments of the Maternal: Reflections on the Desbordes-Valmore Correspondence,” in L'espirit createur, Vol. 39, No. 2, Summer, 1999, pp. 41-51.

[In the following essay, McCall describes the gender dynamics of female epistolary writing illustrated by Desbordes-Valmore's Correspondance intime.]

Collective remembrance promotes unity through the recognition of a common memory that the public is invited to claim as its own. For this reason, cultural historians have paid significant attention to the creation of a secular national identity in France through commemorative events.1 If it is true that France's heroes were and perhaps still are its...

(The entire section is 4803 words.)

Aimée Boutin (essay date 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Desbordes-Valmore, Lamartine, and Poetic Motherhood,” in French Forum, Vol. 24, No. 3, September, 1999, pp. 315-30.

[In the following essay, Boutin compares late nineteenth-century essentialist interpretations of Desbordes-Valmore's poetry and that of Alphonse de Lamartine.]

Desbordes-Valmore and Lamartine, born respectively in 1786 and 1790, were old enough to be the grandparents of later nineteenth-century readers such as Baudelaire and Flaubert, who were born just one year after the publication of Méditations poétiques. These readers identify Lamartine and Desbordes-Valmore's poetry with childhood, a time when they read or heard their mothers...

(The entire section is 5955 words.)