Texts and their Afterlives: Robinsonades
Britaix 17-18 is starting the new term with a flourish of activities both from its individual study groups and from its general seminar. Please join us for the first session of “Texts and their Afterlives”, around the legacy of Robinson Crusoe. Registrations are free via Eventbrite; see the registration button just below the abstracts.
27 September 2021 : « Texts and their Afterlives: Robinsonades »
16h30 – 18h30, via Zoom
Ian Kinane (University of Roehampton): ‘Shifting Perspectives in Two Mid-Twentieth Century Robinsonades: O’Dell and Tournier’
Ruth Menzies, (LERMA, AMU): ‘Le Robinson des Demoiselles: A Nineteenth-Century French Robinsonade for Girls’
‘Shifting Perspectives in Two Mid-Twentieth Century Robinsonades: O’Dell and Tournier’
This paper argues that both Scott O’Dell and Michel Tournier employ the Robinsonade to mount their respective critiques of U.S. and French imperialism in Island of the Blue Dolphin and Friday and Robinson, and that the Robinsonade is – and can be – employed as a tool to resist and comment upon imperialist, nationalist practices. I will show how these texts go largely against the grain of critical writings on Robinsonade fictions, which argue that the Robinsonade is an anachronistic, imperial form unsuited for such critiques. Rather than bolstering the imperial policies of their respective nations, as the use of the Robinsonade form might, at first, suggest, I conclude that O’Dell and Tournier re-imagine the formal constraints of the Robinsonade and construct in their respective texts a vision of a post-imperial world that runs counter to the national narratives of both the United States and France at the time of these books’ publication. I am particularly interested in discussing Tournier with the group and understanding the significance of Friday and Robinson within France’s educational culture.
Ian Kinane (University of Roehampton)
‘Le Robinson des Demoiselles (1835): an edifying Robinsonade for young French girls?’
Catherine Woillez’s numerous children’s books are unequivocally didactic and moral, reflecting her Catholic upbringing and faith.
Her 1835 Robinsonade, Le Robinson des Demoiselles, reworks Defoe’s hypotext to depict a tragic yet edifyingly studious, sweet-natured and pious heroine, Emma de Surville, who is shipwrecked on a desert island at the tender age of fifteen. Forced, like Crusoe, to find food and shelter and domesticate her unfamiliar environment, Emma does so in an explicitly gendered manner, as preoccupied with the elegance of her clothing and interior decoration as any bourgeois nineteenth-century Frenchwoman was expected to be. Alongside hunting, basket-weaving and parasol-making, she creates a pretty flower garden and an aviary and learns to cure her ailments with natural remedies. Through a particularly unsubtle plot device, Catherine Woillez provides Emma with an orphan to care for, thus extending her didactic project to include motherhood and childrearing.
This paper explores how, in transposing Defoe’s novel to an extremely different context – historically, geographically, spiritually and in terms of gender – Woillez offers readers not only practical, moral and religious guidance, but also occasional glimpses of her own life after marriage, at the age of fifteen, to a military officer in the Napoleonic army. It also examines how, rather as Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe has taken on a life of its own reaching far beyond the confines of the original text, Woillez’s didactic female Robinsonade might perhaps be viewed as slightly more radical that its author perhaps intended it to be.
Ruth Menzies (LERMA, Aix-Marseille Université)