Ourika: The Original French Text

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More About This Textbook

Overview

Based on a true story, Claire de Duras's Ourika relates the experiences of a Senegalese girl who is rescued from slavery and raised by an aristocratic French family during the time of the French Revolution. Brought up in a household of learning and privilege, she is unaware of her difference until she overhears a conversation that suddenly makes her conscious of her race--and of the prejudice it arouses. From this point on, Ourika lives her life not as a French woman but as a black woman who feels "cut off from the entire human race." As the Reign of Terror threatens her and her adoptive family, Ourika struggles with her unusual position as an educated African woman in eighteenth-century Europe.

A best-seller in the 1820s, Ourika captured the attention of Duras's peers, including Stendhal, and became the subject of four contemporary plays. The work represents a number of firsts: the first novel set in Europe to have a black heroine; the first French literary work narrated by a black female protagonist; and, as John Fowles points out, "the first serious attempt by a white novelist to enter a black mind."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873527798
  • Publisher: Modern Language Association of America
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Language: French
  • Series: Texts and Translations , #3
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 45
  • Sales rank: 1,159,031
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.23 (d)

Meet the Author


Joan DeJean's books reflect her areas of research: the history of women's writing in France (Tender Geographies: Women and the Origins of the Novel in France); the history of sexuality (Fictions of Sappho, 1546-1937); the development of the novel (Literary Fortifications; Libertine Strategies); and the cultural history and the material culture of late 17th- and early 18th-century France (Ancients against Moderns: Culture Wars and the Making of a Fin de Si├Ęcle; The Essence of Style, 2005; The Age of Comfort).

Margaret Waller is Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Pomona College. Her publications include The Male Malady: Fictions of Impotence in the French Romantic Novel (Rutgers UP, 1993) and a translation of Julia Kristeva's Revolution in Poetic Language (Columbia UP, 1984).

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