Marie Cardinal Criticism - Essay

Elaine Martin (essay date spring 1981)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Martin, Elaine. “Mothers, Madness, and the Middle Class in The Bell Jar and Les Mots pour le dire.French-American Review 5, no. 1 (spring 1981): 24-47.

[In the following essay, Martin explores the mental instabilities of the protagonists in Les Mots pour le dire and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, noting the similarities between the two women's mental states and the extreme pressures that influenced their illness.]

Human madness and the representation of that madness in literature have existed in Western civilization for centuries, beginning as early as Classical Greece. Not only does madness have a long literary history, but it...

(The entire section is 10820 words.)

Patricia Elliot (essay date fall 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Elliot, Patricia. “In the Eye of Abjection: Marie Cardinal's The Words to Say It.Mosaic 20, no. 4 (fall 1987): 71-81.

[In the following essay, Elliot expounds on the autobiographical elements in The Words to Say It, focusing on Cardinal's tumultuous relationship with her mother and the impact of that relationship on Cardinal's mental state.]

While contemplating words, the tools of our trade so often taken for granted, I am reminded of an obscure poem which ends with the phrase, “words: charms unknown to animals.” Perhaps the delight I took in the idea that words could charm followed from the contrary knowledge that words can wound. In...

(The entire section is 5967 words.)

Carolyn A. Durham (essay date 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Durham, Carolyn A. “The Subversive Stitch: Female Craft, Culture, and Ecriture.” Women's Studies 17, nos. 3-4 (1990): 341-59.

[In the following essay, Durham evaluates Cardinal's comparison between the art of embroidery and traditional feminine roles in male-dominated society, commenting that the protagonist's efforts in Le Passé empiété “ultimately justif[y] a theory of female realism in art.”]

By making an embroiderer her central narrative voice and embroidery both the structural and the thematic focus of her most recent novel (Le Passé empiété [The Back Stitch]), Marie Cardinal complements...

(The entire section is 7421 words.)

Phil Powrie (essay date 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Powrie, Phil. “Reading for Pleasure: Marie Cardinal's Les Mots pour le dire and the Text as (Re)Play of Œdipal Configurations.” In Contemporary French Fiction by Women: Feminist Perspectives, edited by Margaret Atack and Phil Powrie, pp. 163-76. Manchester, United Kingdom: Manchester University Press, 1990.

[In the following essay, Powrie argues that several critics have suggested erroneous correlations between the main character in Les Mots pour le dire and Cardinal herself. Powrie concludes that the novel is a purely fictional work, which can be utilized by readers to examine parent-child relationships.]

The question this essay will try to...

(The entire section is 5373 words.)

Mildred Mortimer (review date autumn 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mortimer, Mildred. Review of Comme si de rien n'était, by Marie Cardinal. World Literature Today 65, no. 4 (autumn 1991): 663-64.

[In the following review, Mortimer characterizes Comme si de rien n'était as a novel that explores the power of language in gender relationships.]

Born into a French family in colonial Algeria, Marie Cardinal now lives in France and Québec. Her numerous works include Les Mots pour le dire (1975), an autobiographical account of her own cure through Freudian psychoanalysis. The title of that earlier book, The Words to Say It, conveys the writer's quest for words to record events, revive past memories, and...

(The entire section is 564 words.)

Françoise Lionnet (essay date 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lionnet, Françoise. “Métissage, Emancipation, and Female Textuality in Two Francophone Writers.” In Displacements: Women, Tradition, Literatures in French, edited by Joan DeJean and Nancy K. Miller, pp. 254-74. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

[In the following excerpt, Lionnet suggests parallels between the struggles of Cardinal's female protagonists to achieve autonomy within patriarchal society and the striving of Algeria to achieve self-rule after years of colonization.]

But how is it
That this lives in thy mind? What seest thou else...

(The entire section is 5601 words.)

Lucille Cairns (essay date July 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cairns, Lucille. “Passion and Paranoia: Power Structures and the Representation of Men in the Writings of Marie Cardinal.” French Studies 46, no. 3 (July 1992): 280-95.

[In the following essay, Cairns investigates Cardinal's experimentation with nontraditional gender roles in her novels and traces her treatment of men and male-female relationships throughout her works.]

The novels of Marie Cardinal, highly successful within francophone countries, are surprisingly neglected outside them. The first, published in 1962, was followed by a whole series of novels which have been published at frequent intervals from then to the present day, coinciding with the...

(The entire section is 7463 words.)

Lucille Cairns (essay date October 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cairns, Lucille. “Roots and Alienation in Marie Cardinal's Au Pays de mes racines.Forum for Modern Language Studies 29, no. 4 (October 1993): 346-58.

[In the following essay, Cairns appraises Cardinal's conflicting nationalistic views of France and Algeria in Au Pays de mes racines, commenting that the novel “inscribes the psychological conflict created by aspirations to biculturalism (particularly when the two cultures in question are so antithetical).”]

In the writings of Marie Cardinal, a pied noir born in Algeria in 1929, national identity is a source of psychological unease and powerfully ambivalent feelings. Of a privileged...

(The entire section is 5985 words.)

David J. Bond (essay date 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bond, David J. “Marie Cardinal's Comme si de rien n'était: Language and Violence.” International Fiction Review 21, nos. 1-2 (1994): 68-75.

[In the following essay, Bond addresses Cardinal's emphasis on the power of words and language in Comme si de rien n'était and throughout her career, purporting that Cardinal links women's cultural and social liberation with their gender's need to claim their own language and history.]

Marie Cardinal's most recent novel, Comme si de rien n'était (“As if nothing had happened”; 1990) continues the exploration of violence that she began in earlier works.1 Once again, she shows...

(The entire section is 4359 words.)

Marie-Paule Ha (essay date spring 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ha, Marie-Paule. “Outre-Mer/Autre Mère: Cardinal and Algeria.” Romance Notes 36, no. 3 (spring 1996): 315-23.

[In the following essay, Ha explores the similarities between Cardinal's search for personal identity within mother-daughter relationships and her search for national identity between Algeria and France.]

The critical works that have been devoted to Marie Cardinal tend to focus mainly on either feminist issues such as female textuality, female identity and female discourse or on psychoanalytical discussions that center on her rapport to her mother.1 In these readings, Cardinal's relationship to Algeria is either ignored or broached in an...

(The entire section is 3517 words.)

Marie-Paule Ha (essay date fall 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ha, Marie-Paule. “The (M)Otherland in Marie Cardinal.” Romance Quarterly 43, no. 4 (fall 1996): 206-16.

[In the following essay, Ha argues that Cardinal's opinions concerning the colonization of Algeria and Pied-Noirs/native relations are both condescending and naïve.]

A common critical move in discussing Marie Cardinal's relation to Algeria, her motherland, is to conflate the latter with the maternal body and to see all three as equal victims of colonialism. For instance, in Françoise Lionnet's reading of Les Mots pour le dire,1 the tragic fates of the narrator and her mother, both Pieds-Noirs, have been unproblematically assimilated to...

(The entire section is 5723 words.)

Claire Marrone (essay date fall 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Marrone, Claire. “Pretense and Possibility: The Tomorrows of Charles, Lula, and Marie Cardinal.” Sites 1, no. 2 (fall 1997): 527-40.

[In the following essay, Marrone discusses the relationship between the dual protagonists in Les Jeudis de Charles et de Lula and notes their gender-based differences in thought, language, and desires.]

Marie Cardinal has enjoyed international notoriety for over two decades, particularly since the publication of her most celebrated text, Les Mots pour le dire (1975). Autobiography has always been at the center of Cardinal's production, and her search for self-knowledge has taken various forms. Her corpus, which...

(The entire section is 5827 words.)

Patrice J. Proulx (essay date fall 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Proulx, Patrice J. “Representations of Cultural and Geographical Displacement in Marie Cardinal.” Centennial Review 42, no. 3 (fall 1998): 527-38.

[In the following essay, Proulx maintains that Cardinal's feelings toward her mother—as described in several of the author's works—are inextricably tied to her sense of belonging to Algeria, her “motherland.” Proulx explores Cardinal's difficulties with her emotional separation from her mother and her physical separation from her homeland.]

We have to accept, however reluctantly, the simple fact that we live in an age of refugees, of migrants, vagrants, nomads roaming about the...

(The entire section is 4851 words.)

Nancy Lane (essay date May 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lane, Nancy. “Duras and Cardinal: Writing the (M)Other.1French Forum 24, no. 2 (May 1999): 215-32.

[In the following essay, Lane utilizes the feminist and psychoanalytical theories of Julia Kristeva and Jessica Benjamin to analyze how both Cardinal and Marguerite Duras depict mother-daughter relationships.]

Qu'est-ce aimer, pour une femme, la même chose qu'écrire. Rire. Impossible. Flash sur l'innommable, tissages d'abstractions à déchirer. Qu'un corps s'aventure enfin hors de son abri, s'y risque en sens sous voile de mots. VERBE FLESH. De l'un à l'autre, éternellement, visions morcelées, métaphores de...

(The entire section is 7851 words.)

Pat Duffy (essay date February 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Duffy, Pat. “Realigning Cultural Perspectives: Marie Cardinal and Camara Laye.” French Cultural Studies 12, no. 1 (February 2001): 5-21.

[In the following essay, Duffy examines the impact of dual cultural heritage on the works of Cardinal and Camara Laye, asserting that many postcolonial writers struggle with issues of self-identity when they attempt to embrace aspects of either culture.]

Aujourd'hui je n'ose pas retourner chez moi, en Algérie, parce que c'est devenu l'étranger aussi. C'est l'étranger partout pour moi.1

With this enigmatic description of her position Marie Cardinal, in Au...

(The entire section is 7577 words.)

Inmaculada Jauregui (essay date fall 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Jauregui, Inmaculada. “Towards a Phenomenology of Writing: A Reading of Marie Cardinal's Les Grands Désordres (Disorderly Conduct).” Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 32, no. 2 (fall 2001): 170-81.

[In the following essay, Jauregui evaluates Cardinal's “narrative treatment of a Parisian psychologist” in Les Grands Désordres, arguing that fiction can reveal human truths that often “elude the grasp” of psychology.]


Marie Cardinal's novel Les Grands Désordres (Disorderly Conduct) explores the power of biography and fictional writing to reveal the human world in ways that elude...

(The entire section is 7594 words.)