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Introduction to Marie le Jars de Gournay (1565–1645)

Introduction to Marie le Jars de Gournay (1565–1645)

(p.3) Introduction to Marie le Jars de Gournay (1565–1645)
Apology for the Woman Writing and Other Works
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses Marie le Jars de Gournay's literary works. Gournay's literary achievement, however sprawling and fragmented, stands as a monumental challenge to patriarchalism, and to its attitudes and structures—hence Élyane Dezon-Jones's title for her edition of selected works: Fragments d'un discours feminine (Fragments of a feminine discourse). The nature and extent of Gournay's “feminism” are still not a matter of universal agreement. Also to the point is the grounding of much of her thought in tenets associated with Neoplatonism and Christianity's humanism—most notably, the interdependence of classical education and moral superiority, of wisdom and right conduct, that often went by the name of “suffisance” (sufficiency). In her most substantial autobiographical piece, Apology for the Woman Writing, Gournay recounts the death of her mother in 1591 and her burden of managing her siblings' precarious affairs.

Keywords:   Marie Gournay, patriarchalism, Élyane Dezon-Jones, feminism, Neoplatonism, Christianity, humanism, Woman Writing

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