Pas un jour, the 2002 novel by the French writer Anne Garréta, is a polemic against autofiction, the popular contemporary genre that experiments with the boundaries between autobiography and fiction. Garréta lures the reader with the promise of access to some part of her real self and her lived experience by mimicking the conventions and tone of autofiction, only to reveal that the auto in autofiction is an empty concept and to insist that there is no real subject to be found in the fiction. Pas un jour’s infiltration of autofiction puts this subject into crisis and challenges readers to consider that who we think we are is as fictive as the novels that we read.
This article examines Sphinx, the debut novel of the French novelist Anne Garréta, which was recently published in English translation in 2015.The reception of Sphinx in both French and English has focused primarily on Garréta’s virtuosic removal of gender from a love story, passing over a caricatural and crude rendering of racial difference that is at odds with the novel’s impelling ethos of “Fuck difference.” By attending to what Garréta describes as her debt to Monique Wittig, I show that Sphinx, far from being an exemplar of a second-wave feminism marked by a blindness to or instrumentalization of race, actually builds up racial difference as a Trojan Horse to combat difference in all its identitarian forms. Sphinx, in its radical anti-identitarianism, demonstrates the political potentiality of the novel form and challenges its readers to imagine an indeterminate existence outside all identity categories.
Marie Darrieussecq's Clèves (2011) shocked readers with the vulgarity of its language and spurred controversy over its status as a literary text. In this article, I show how the novel's "bad" language is a foil for Darrieussecq's larger project of rewriting the adolescent female body, removing it from the sexualized and objectified optic through which it is usually viewed in order to stage it instead as a body in process, as a situation. For this body in process, gender and sexuality are not givens, but deeply unfamiliar experiences that resist the social order’s dominant framing narratives, its scripts for normal and normative subjectivation. The novel, through a Wittigian universalization of the particular point of view of the female adolescent, gives readers access to the experience and the knowledge provided by her body in process.