Féline Fatale: The New Woman as Cat-Woman in Rachilde’s L’Animale

  • Claire Nettleton
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


In her analysis of L’Animale (1893) by Rachilde (1860–1953), Nettleton examines the modern cat-woman myth, where women and cats in fiction were often relegated to marginal spaces like rooftops and gutters, with no clear place in urban society. Nettleton discusses the newfound abundance of women in the arts, from painters to Chat Noir cabaret performers. Drawing parallels between feminist theory and animal theory (Haraway, Adams, Donovan), Nettleton analyzes Rachilde’s own self-identification with animals, and cats in particular, as integral to her creative process. A morphing creature that escapes social identity, Rachilde’s figure of the cat-woman transcends the boundaries between man and woman, human and animal, as well as technical and organic. The féline fatale is a part of an urban aesthetic that still clings to its pastoral past. Much like the architectural and proto-cinematic arts of the fin de siècle, L’Animale infuses theriomorphic and technical imagery within the industrial cityscape of fin de siècle France.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Nettleton
    • 1
  1. 1.Pomona CollegeClaremontUSA

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