10 November 2020

Monique Wittig: Les Guérrillères (1969)

I could write a great deal about Wittig's revolutionary feminist utopia, but much has already been written about the theories involved. Suffice to say that this novel shows its revolutionary colours very positively by taking the female plural 'elles' and using it at a default pronoun instead of the usual masculine singular 'il': not only are women being foregrounded, but collectivism as opposed to individuality.

The structure of the novel of course couldn't have been conventional: between the usually small paragraphs there are large white spaces, and every five pages a page is taken up by female names in large capital letters, always forenames, never surnames (or patronyms).

There are three roughly equal sections, each beginning with a huge circle in thick black: zero? vagina? Yes, but most of all the absence of linearity, the emphasis on continuity, a reinvention of time, and we think of Mary Daly and her expression 'the archaic future' in the title Quintessence... Realizing the Archaic Future: A Radical Elemental Feminist Manifesto (1998).

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