Infertility and the Novels of Sophie Cottin

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University of Delaware Press, 2002 - Literary Criticism - 167 pages
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Sophie Cottin's story, little known to modern readers on either side of the Atlantic, may nevertheless be a perfect case study of a woman's "coming to writing" in post-revolutionary France. Left a widow and childless in 1793, Cottin published her first novel anonymously in 1799. Her works came to be appreciated by a wide and diverse reading audience across Europe, enjoying a popularity which endured long after her death in 1807. This critical analysis of the five major novels she produced in her lifetime explores the crucial connections between Cottin's self-perceived "defectiveness" and her literary production. Drawing upon modern research on infertility and its effect on human behavior, the study proposes that Cottin's writing bears the discernible traces of one barren woman's struggle, embedded in a pronatalist culture which assigned her little or no value outside maternity, to give meaning and eventual purpose to life.

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Infertility and Plenitude in Claire dAlbe

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Michael J. Call is Professor of Humanities at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

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