Liberty, Equality, Maternity

Alison Fell

Legenda (General Series)


1 June 2003  •  218pp

ISBN: 1-900755-73-4 (paperback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85


The concept of motherhood emerges strongly in the writings of Simone de Beauvoir, Violette Leduc and Annie Ernaux, whose work is examined here in the light of current debates about women's reproductive function and the longstanding glorification of the mère au foyer in France, driven by fear of a falling population. In this interdisciplinary study of twentieth-century French women's writing, Fell uncovers tensions at the heart of the literary critique. She shows these authors challenging the patriarchal view of motherhood as the sole justification for a woman's existence while at the same time confronting the conflict inherent in their relationship with their own mothers. A survey of theoretical and historical material demonstrates vividly that the changing concept of motherhood remains a problematic and highly contentious issue for French feminists, whether writing in 1940 or 1999.

Alison Fell is Lecturer in French at The Queen's College, University of Oxford.


  • ‘A highly readable, well-informed, and clearly argued study of the discourses of motherhood in twentieth-century France.’ — Catherine Rodgers, Modern Language Review 99.4, 2004, 1059-60 (full text online)
  • ‘Ce livre consciencieux met en valeur l'humanité des trois écrivaines étudiées plutôt qu'une quelconque rigidité. Somme tout, c'est leur histoire personnelle que Fell explore, avec tout ce que cela supposes de contradictions, d'ambiguïtés, de tiraillements entre théorie et vécu.’ — Catherine Slawy-Sutton, French Review 79.2, 2006, 420-21

Bibliography entry:

Fell, Alison, Liberty, Equality, Maternity (Legenda, 2003)

First footnote reference: 35 Alison Fell, Liberty, Equality, Maternity (Legenda, 2003), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Fell, p. 47.

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Bibliography entry:

Fell, Alison. 2003. Liberty, Equality, Maternity (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Fell 2003: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Fell 2003: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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