Sublime, forcément sublime Marguerite D.? Sex, Lies, and Politics in the Real

  • James S. Williams


On 16 October 1984, the body of a four-year old boy, Grégory Villemin, was found washed up along the banks of the river Vologne in the Vosges region of north-west France. He had been murdered. On the 273rd day of what became known as ‘L’affaire Grégory’, and with the boy’s mother, Christine, still incarcerated on charges of infanticide, Libération published ‘Marguerite Duras: sublime, forcément sublime Christine V.’. This three-page article by Duras was prefaced by a short note from the editor who had commissioned it, Serge July, in which, as if to preempt hostile criticism, he defended her right to stage publicly Man’s ‘part maudite’ as part of the natural ‘transgression of writing’.1 As it turned out, the article was almost unanimously attacked by feminists including Simone Signoret and Benoîte Groult who viewed it as a scandalous contravention of the acceptable limits of literature in the name of sisterhood,2 citing in particular Duras’s statement: ‘What would have made Christine V. a criminal is a secret common to all women’. In a letter addressed to Duras and subsequently published in Libération, Nelcya Delanoë inveighed against the ‘fantasmatic arbitrariness’ of a writer expressing herself publicly in order to make an ‘innocent criminal’ out of a woman who had not yet been put on trial.3 And a year later, in Esprit, Paul Thibaud, mindful of the general history of French intellectuals defending the damned (Zola in the Dreyfus affair of 1898, for example), ascribed to a Camusian romanticism dating from the Liberation Duras’s tendency to oppose every law with the rights automatically ‘granted’ by suffering.4


Original Emphasis White Object Real Crime Radical Otherness Marguerite Dura 
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Notes to Chapter 6

  1. 4.
    Paul Thibaud, ‘Marguerite Duras: Les Ambiguïtés de la Compassion’, Esprit, No. 116 (July 1986), pp. 75–77.Google Scholar
  2. 14.
    See Verena Andermatt Conley, ‘“L’Affaire Grégory” and Duras’s Textual Feminism’, L’Esprit Créateur, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Spring 1990), pp. 101–10.Google Scholar
  3. 37.
    See Homi K. Bhabha, ‘The Other Question—the Stereotype and Colonial Discourse’, Screen, Vol. 24, No. 6 (1983), pp. 18–36; p. 33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 59.
    Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit, Arts of Impoverishment, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1993, p. 189.Google Scholar
  5. 68.
    See René Girard, Violence and the Sacred, trans. Patrick Gregory, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978, p. 49.Google Scholar
  6. 70.
    See Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, The Freudian Subject, trans. François Roustang, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1988, p. 86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© James S. Williams 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KentCanterburyUK

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