Rachilde Criticism - Essay

Daniel Gerould (essay date 1983)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Madame Rachilde: 'Man' of Letters," in Performing Arts Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1983, pp. 117-22.

[In the following essay, Gerould presents an overview of Rachilde's literary works, including several of her best-known plays.]

One of the most colorful and appealing figures in Parisian artistic and literary circles at the turn of the century—a period rich in flamboyant characters—was Marguerite àEymery, wife of Alfred Vallette (founder of the magazine Mercure de France) but known to her readers and fellow writers by her pen name Rachilde. Author of dozens of novels with provocative titles (The Marquise de Sade, The Sexual Hour) that...

(The entire section is 2365 words.)

Jennifer Birkett (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'La Marquise de Sade': Rachilde (Marguerite Eymery) 1860-1953," in The Sins of the Fathers: Decadence in France 1870-1914, Quartet Books, 1986, pp. 159-89.

[In the following essay, Birkett provides a psychological interpretation of Rachilde's works.]

Woman's place, for the writers and artists of the decadence, was inside the work of art, as an image to fix the male imagination. If Rachilde, almost alone of women writers of her period, was accepted into the Club des Hydropathes and Le Chat Noir, patronized by Victor Hugo and Barbey d'Aurevilly, approved by the misogynists Huysmans and Léon Bloy, and befriended by Verlaine, Jean Lorrain, Catulle Mendès,...

(The entire section is 13554 words.)

Melante C. Hawthorne (essay date 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Monsieur Venus: A Critique of Gender Roles," in Nineteenth-Century French Studies, Vol. XVI, Nos. 1 & 2, Fall, 1987 & Winter, 1988, pp. 162-79.

[In the following essay, Hawthorne argues that Rachilde 's literary portrayal of gender roles lends her works a greater interest and relevance than they are usually accorded.]

A review of recent Modern Language Association Bibliographies reveals that most nineteenth-century French women prose fiction writers have received little critical attention. (The exceptions are, of course, Madame de Staël and George Sand.) Those who have been considered (Hortense Allait and Louise Colet, for example) have not been...

(The entire section is 6841 words.)

Robert E. Ziegler (essay date 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Suicide of 'La Comedienne' in Rachilde's La Jongleuse," in Continental, Latin-American and Francophone Women Writers, edited by Eunice Myers and Ginette Adamson, University Press of America, 1987, pp. 55-61.

[In the following essay, Ziegler analyzes the implications of the sadistic behavior of Rachilde's female protagonists, focusing on the novel The Juggler.]

Swords and daggers, bayonets and scalpels: all the pointed instruments men use for invading others' bodies are appropriated by the women characters in the novels of Rachilde. In the evolution of "l'amour compliqué" [Maurice Barrès, Preface, Monsieur Vénus] that Barrès sees emerging...

(The entire section is 2742 words.)

Melanie C. Hawthorne (essay date 1989)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Social Construction of Sexuality in Three Novels by Rachilde," in Michigan Romance Studies, Vol. 9, 1989, pp. 49-59.

[In the following essay, Hawthorne regards Rachilde as a novelist whose works presented a view of human sexuality that was in opposition to the dominant psychological and medical theories of the late nineteenth century.]

In his multi-volume work on the history of sexuality, Michel Foucault explains how, with the rise of capitalism, sexuality passes from action to discourse: the energy previously invested in action is transformed into discourse about action. One of the resulting intersections of power, sexuality, and knowledge...

(The entire section is 2932 words.)

Melanie C. Hawthorne (essay date 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to The Juggler by Rachilde, translated by Melanie C. Hawthorne, Rutgers University Press, 1990, pp. xi-xxix.

[In the following essay, Hawthorne focuses on Rachilde's thematic and technical innovations in her novel The Juggler.]

The novelist Rachilde (Marguerite Eymery Vallette) became an instant success in French literary circles when, at the age of twenty-four, she published her fourth novel, Monsieur Vénus (1884). Her celebrity stemmed in large part from the public condemnation of the book: it was published by Brancart in Brussels, where it was immediately declared pornographic. Copies of the book were seized, and Rachilde was...

(The entire section is 4794 words.)

Ben Fisher (essay date 1991)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Companion and the Dream: Delirium in Rachilde and Jarry," in Romance Studies, No. 18, Summer, 1991, pp. 33-41.

[In the following essay, Fisher examines depictions of delirium in Rachilde's La princesse des ténèbres and Alfred Jarry's Les jours et les nuits, claiming that these works illustrate a view of dream-states differing from the theories advanced by Sigmund Freud in his Interpretation of Dreams.]

It is inevitable that discussion of the dream in literature, and particularly over the last hundred years, tends to focus on Freud and the relevance of Freudian interpretation. The mark of Freud upon twentieth-century thought is in fact so...

(The entire section is 3976 words.)

Melanie C. Hawthorne (essay date 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "To the Lighthouse: Fictions of Masculine Identity in Rachilde's La Tour d'Amour," in L'Esprit Createur, Vol. 32, No. 4, Winter, 1992, pp. 41-51.

[In the following essay, Hawthorne interprets Rachilde's novel La tour d'amour as an allegory of the author's place as a woman writing in a literary world dominated by men.]

"Is a pen a metaphorical penis?" asked Gilbert and Gubar in their study of women writers, [The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination] encapsulating the question of the role of gender in women's writing in the nineteenth century. The cultural assumption of a link between writing...

(The entire section is 4239 words.)

Renee A. Kingcaid (essay date 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Epithalamic Horror: Displacement in Rachilde," in Neurosis and Narrative: The Decadent Short Fiction of Proust, Lorrain, and Rachilde, Southern Illinois University Press, 1992, pp. 111-44.

[In the following essay, Kingcaid argues that the world of Rachilde's literary works is symbolic of the functions of women's bodies, especially the female reproductive system.]

To be a woman writer at the turn of the century, Rachilde maintained, was to assume an unenviable personality. Rachilde's preface to her 1888 Madame Adonis assures that the "woman of letters" commits herself to "a god-awful career, the most god-awful career possible." Engaged in by...

(The entire section is 12885 words.)

Will L. McLendon (essay date 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Rachilde: Fin de siècle Perspective on Perversities," in Modernity and Revolution in Late Nineteenth-Century France, edited by Barbara T. Cooper and Mary Donaldson-Evans, University of Delaware Press, 1992, pp. 52-64.

[In the following essay, McLendon perceives what is usually considered perverted behavior in Rachilde's fictional works as an indirect means used by the author to protest oppressive social conventions and institutions of her time.]

So far from constituting a threat to "good" moral values of the belle époque, the offbeat French novel of the 1880s and 1890s, often subtitled "Parisian Manners" or even "Foreign Manners" and regularly kept...

(The entire section is 4225 words.)

Margaret Bruzelius (essay date 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: '"En el Profundo Espejo del Deseo': Delmira Agustini, Rachilde, and the Vampire," in Revista Hispánica Moderna: Columbia University Hispanic Studies, Vol. XLVI, No. 1, 1993, pp. 51-63.

[In the following essay, Bruzelius examines the figure of the vampiric female as portrayed in the works of Rachilde and Uruguayan author Delmira Augustini.]

I have been faithful to thee,
Cynara, in my fashion.


The nineteenth century fascination with the femme fatale may have reached its apogee in the figure of the Vampire—that marble white, silent woman with luxuriant hair, heavy...

(The entire section is 7369 words.)

Elaine Showalter (essay date 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Decadent Queen," in The Times Literary Supplement, No. 4813, June 30, 1995, pp. 5-6.

[In the following essay, Showalter discusses the dominant themes in Rachilde's works.]

In "Grape-Gatherers of Sodom", a remarkable story about the genesis of homosexuality published in 1894, the French writer Rachilde displayed the perverse tastes and sensuous prose style that had won her the nickname "Mademoiselle Baudelaire". Out of the walled town of Sodom comes a procession of male grape-pickers led by a stern patriarch. As they rest in the vineyard, the men are approached by a naked girl, her breasts burned black by the sun, who seductively twines about their sleeping...

(The entire section is 2551 words.)