French Divorce Fiction from the Revolution to the First World War
Maney Publishing, Oxford, 2013, 205 pp.
One of the primary social changes ushered in by the French Revolution was the legalization of divorce in 1792. Diluted by the Civil Code and suppressed by the Restoration, divorce was only fully established in France by the Loi Naquet of 1884. French Divorce Fiction from the Revolution to the First World War tracks the part played by novels in this conflict between the secular rights of individual citizens and the sanctity of the traditional family. Inspired by the sociologists Zygmunt Bauman and Anthony Giddens, White’s account culminates in the first sustained analysis of the role of divorce in the refashioning of life narratives during the early Third Republic. As such, it finds new contexts for canonical writers on divorce such as Maupassant and Bourget, and on serial relationships such as Colette, in close readings of rediscovered women novelists like André Léo, Claire Vautier, Marie-Anne de Bovet and Camille Pert, and of long-overlooked patriarchs such as Anatole France, Alphonse Daudet and Édouard Rod.
Nicholas White teaches French in the University of Cambridge where he is a Fellow of Emmanuel College.