Monique Wittig Virgilia Peterson - Essay

Virgilia Peterson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In "The Opoponax" Monique Wittig] has made what can only be called a brilliant re-entry into childhood.

In both form and content, "The Opoponax" is a revolutionary story. It is not told in the first person singular. The child who tells it refers to herself by her full name, Catherine Legrand. Yet it is her own story seen through her own eyes as she lives it…. [The passage of time in the novel] is not recorded according to an adult conception of days and weeks and months and years.

It is Catherine Legrand's time. It unfolds like an accordion, still tightly pleated at the start and then flattening out wider and wider as her physical and mental capacities stretch to meet experience….

Who is this Catherine Legrand in whose life we become so immersed? Like every child, she is a highly individual person…. No one else sees the woods, the animals, the flowers, the frozen puddles, the colors of the sky or the other children (of whom there are many, all equally alive) or the various teachers, as Catherine Legrand sees them, her eyes being, like the eyes of each of us, unique. Yet the rush of her impressions, succeeding one another with lightning rapidity (and unbroken by conventional punctuation or paragraphing which the author astonishingly and for the most part successfully ignores), has the rhythm and helter-skelter and vitality of every awakening mind.

These impetuous, brook-like...

(The entire section is 430 words.)