Book review: Challenges to traditional authority: plays by French women authors, 1650-1700
Brigitte Roussel. 2017. Book review: Challenges to traditional authority: plays by French women authors, 1650-1700. In: Françoise Pascal, Marie-Catherine Desjardins, Antoinette Deshoulières, and Catherine Durand. Challenges to Traditional Authority: Plays by French Women Authors, 1650–1700. Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 70:no. 1:pp 391-393
This edition of four translated plays written by French women authors in the seventeenth century is a welcome addition to the body of dramatic works by early modern playwrights. The introduction situates the state of scholarship on the genre and on the question of gender recognition by highlighting the successful publication and positive reception of these plays in spite of obstacles encountered by women writers at that time. It also re-creates the historical context in which the theater became a prominent avenue of literary production, while encompassing women’s own participation in this versatile genre as they managed to publish their plays and get them performed. Gethner presents a fascinating meshing of the intricate intellectual debates over the rules governing drama or the role of emotion in tragedies between male playwrights who tended to represent women as rivals while focusing on masculine virtue, and these women playwrights who forged a space for their own creativity by debunking standard models of male heroism and often emphasizing friendship between women.