“Personal” Narrative: Taking It Personally—Men Telling the Stories of Wandering Women

  • Mariah Devereux Herbeck


Breton’s duplicitous incipit to Nadja, “Qui suisje ?,” is reprised and reinterpreted some 30 years later in Marguerite Duras’s novel, Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein (The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein, 1964, henceforth RLVS) and nearly 70 years later in Laetitia Masson’s film, À vendre (For Sale, 1998). Although a precise reproduction of Breton’s inquiry is absent from these female-authored works, the male narrative agents 3 of the respective works do propose answers—equivocal as they may be—to questions about their own identity and about the women they follow. As is evident in the above epigraphs, Jacques Hold in RLVS and Luigi Primo in À vendre are led to what they believe is a strong connection—indeed identification—with Lol V. Stein and France Robert, respectively. In both the film and the novel, the male narrative agent perceives his knowledge of the wanderer as so complete and privileged that he can claim to identify “personally” with the woman in question. Through moments of extreme identification with the woman and, at times, by means of aggressive appropriation, these men make the women’s stories that they tell their own.


Life Story Female Character Fictional World Narrative Strategy Narrative Voice 
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© Mariah Devereux Herbeck 2013

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  • Mariah Devereux Herbeck

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