My Escape

My Escape

by Benoite Groult
     
 

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This witty autobiography captures the rich and varied life of a renowned French author and pioneering feminist, through the obstacles and movements in twentieth-century France.

Born in 1920 in Paris, Benoite Groult obtained the right to vote only when she was twenty-five years old. She married four times, bore three children, underwent several illegal abortions,

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Overview

This witty autobiography captures the rich and varied life of a renowned French author and pioneering feminist, through the obstacles and movements in twentieth-century France.

Born in 1920 in Paris, Benoite Groult obtained the right to vote only when she was twenty-five years old. She married four times, bore three children, underwent several illegal abortions, became a writer after she turned forty, and a feminist in her fifties. Groult chronicles her experiences and her intellectual developments through successive phases—as an obedient child, an awkward and bookish adolescent, and a submissive wife—until finally becoming a liberated novelist.

Here, she recounts the childhood trips she spent with her family, Paris during the occupation, her marriages, motherhood, and her continuous fight for women’s rights. At ninety-one years old, she concludes that she has been, and still is, a happy woman—lucky to have captured her freedoms, one by one, paying for them, delighting in them, and loving them. Sexy, chatty, and full of shrewd insight, My Escape covers her years of struggle and success—as a daughter, lover, writer, wife, mother, and reluctant socialite—and draws a portrait of the role of French women in the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Groult, a proud, sassy feminist, is well known in France for—among other ouvres—her then-racy novel Salt on Our Skin and her widely-read Ainsi soit-elle, which alerted many French readers for the first time to the practice of female genital mutilation. Whether one is familiar or not with Groult's work, this book is delightful for its frequently beautiful prose, and appealing for how it deals with controversial subjects (abortion, female subjugation, sexism in language). Intimate memories of the author's childhood—skiing with her father, wonder-gawking at her mother—and adulthood are fraught with struggle and questioning, as are her loves and love affairs. Misgivings about daughter-, mother-, grandmother-, and wife-hood decorate Groult's story, to which she adds interviews as well as analyses of women's treatment both in literature and in society at large. She endears herself to readers through profound insights and a generous sense of humor; her honest and occasionally bawdy style is a major plus. Though the book is not always seamless in its construction, it is clear that what Groult remembers and contemplates matters deeply to her. In that sense this book embodies what an autobiography should be: a careful selection of memories, anecdotes, and observations that gives the feeling of having conversed with a wonderful and memorable person. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"Now finally the last first generation feminist book."—Kate Millett, author of Sexual Politics

"Frank, no-nonsense reflections by the French novelist about her gradual road to feminism through World War II, three husbands and the embrace of the writing life...A cleareyed memoir by a writer resolved to claim her 'place on the battlefield of feminism.'"—Kirkus

"[Groult] endears herself to readers through profound insights and a generous sense of humor; her honest and occasionally bawdy style is a major plus....this book embodies what an autobiography should be: a careful selection of memories, anecdotes, and observations that gives the feeling of having conversed with a wonderful and memorable person."—Publishers Weekly

"My Escape is written in a way that reveals the author's voice, the author's mind. It is written in a style that is intelligent and thoughtful, warm and humorous, both thought provoking and touching...My Escape is utterly accessible and reveals a woman who has lived a life that stretches beyond the world of Academia...a gem of a book, written by a woman who is an example to all of us...she is real, working tirelessly for the cause of Feminism whilst living and loving, doubting and struggling. She is a woman of passion and commitment and a woman I would love to meet."—Seattle Pi

"Her feminism is the feminism of every woman...She does not approach feminism from a dry academic position, but from the vibrant stance of a woman who has lived life to the full and who has fought for equal rights whilst being a mother, a wife, a grandmother and a professional writer."—BC Books

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590515433
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
10/23/2012
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,405,417
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 8.06(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

My Escape

An Autobiography
By Benoite Groult

Other Press

Copyright © 2012 Benoite Groult
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781590515433

For us girls, there also weren’t any “great authors” of our gender. At no stage of my studies, not even during my bachelor’s degree in literature, was one of our sacred “great authors” a woman! 
   Erica Jong says that at Barnard, a college founded by American feminists and dedicated to educating young women, female authors, novelists, and poets weren’t studied. At the library, you couldn’t find the novels of Colette (supposedly out of print) or Simone de Beauvoir or Emily Dickinson. In 1960! In the land of feminism! Imagine, then, the desert that was the Sorbonne in 1941. In fact, our pantheon was empty with the exception of one exalted heroine: Joan of Arc. Yet she was also incidentally a virgin, the sole descendant of the mythic Amazons, and the only one who had the audacity to break the chains of her feminine condition and traditions. As everyone knows, she was punished for it and, just like Antigone, Iphigenia, and Jocasta, doomed to a precocious and tragic end.
   We can all agree—a rather dissuasive model. In the twentieth century, in order to void the suffragists’ claims, the French press quickly nicknamed them the “Suffragettes,” a name that made them go down in posterity as some sort of gleeful majorettes for the right to vote. In England, meanwhile, women fought heroically by chaining themselves to the gates of Westminster, throwing themselves under the horses’ hooves during the Epsom Derby in front of a dumbfounded crowd, and taking up hunger strikes in order to win the right to vote twenty years before French women.

Continues...

Excerpted from My Escape by Benoite Groult Copyright © 2012 by Benoite Groult. Excerpted by permission of Other Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Now finally the last first generation feminist book."—Kate Millett, author of Sexual Politics

"Frank, no-nonsense reflections by the French novelist about her gradual road to feminism through World War II, three husbands and the embrace of the writing life...A cleareyed memoir by a writer resolved to claim her 'place on the battlefield of feminism.'"—Kirkus

"[Groult] endears herself to readers through profound insights and a generous sense of humor; her honest and occasionally bawdy style is a major plus....this book embodies what an autobiography should be: a careful selection of memories, anecdotes, and observations that gives the feeling of having conversed with a wonderful and memorable person."—Publishers Weekly

"My Escape is written in a way that reveals the author's voice, the author's mind. It is written in a style that is intelligent and thoughtful, warm and humorous, both thought provoking and touching...My Escape is utterly accessible and reveals a woman who has lived a life that stretches beyond the world of Academia...a gem of a book, written by a woman who is an example to all of us...she is real, working tirelessly for the cause of Feminism whilst living and loving, doubting and struggling. She is a woman of passion and commitment and a woman I would love to meet."—Seattle Pi

"Her feminism is the feminism of every woman...She does not approach feminism from a dry academic position, but from the vibrant stance of a woman who has lived life to the full and who has fought for equal rights whilst being a mother, a wife, a grandmother and a professional writer."—BC Books

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Meet the Author

Benoîte Groult was born in Paris in 1920. She is a renowned and best-selling French novelist, essayist, and a founder of modern feminism. She has been a member of the jury of the Prix Femina since 1982, and in 2010 was promoted to the rank of Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur. Her autobiography My Escape is an international best seller, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in Holland and more than a million copies in Germany.
 
Nichole Gleisner received her PhD in French literature from Duke University in 2011.
She has published on the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, and this is her first translation for Other Press. She currently lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut.

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