Sunday, August 30, 2015

Japanese and French Women in Translation

August has been quite a lazy month for me, taking time to visit places and enjoy the company of the special people around me. However, I did manage to read a few books and among them is "The Pillow Book", for The Japanese Reading Challenge but also for Women in Translation Month. It is an interesting book, with wise opinions and joyful musings recorded by Sei Shonagon, a court lady during the early 11th century Japan. I am aware that the book is valuable as a historical document presenting life at the Japanese court, but it is all that that did not appeal to me. I was rather drawn to her criticism, preferences and passionate ideas on the people and objects around her.

Also, I have started reading "Grotesque", a crime novel written in 2007 by Natsuo Kirino, the Japanese writer of "Out", a thriller I simply loved and so far, this book has made me see the relationships within a family in a different light. I hope I will finish it in the next few days and still consider it a great book and its author a talented one.

On the other hand, Simone de Beauvoir's "The Woman Destroyed" will have to wait its turn sometime next month...

Happy reading and a memorable autumn! :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Women and the French Revolution

Women have struggled for centuries to gain the same rights as men and not be seen as slaves. The French Revolution was the certain means of accomplishing that. Almost. This category of citizens went back and forth in order to establish their rights.

On 5th October 1789 – women of Paris were angry about the high price of bread so 3,000 women marched to the Hotel de Ville to demand bread. This march of the Women was a visible representation of citizen unrest and became an event with major consequences for the monarchy. The king received a delegation of 15 women and 15 National Assembly deputies, which had not happened previously.

However, from existing patriotic clubs for women in 1792, the times changed so that married women were not allowed to purchase land. With this in mind and having to face every day, women became ‘revolutionary’ themselves as well. The most virulent of these women scared the male revolutionaries as it happened on the 18th November 1793 when a red bonnet group of women led by Claire Lacombe got into the General Council of Paris. As a consequence, the National Convention forbade all clubs and gatherings that involved women. Women no longer had the right to even take part in political reunions and they were excluded from the affairs of the city.

If in September 1792 women were given the right to divorce, Napoleon’s code of 1804 changed all that. Divorce was made harder to obtain, particularly for women. the remarkably egalitarian law of 1792 was repealed and provisions were introduced which restricted divorce by mutual consent and imposed a double standard test of adultery, to the advantage of women. Later on, the women failed in making men recognize their political rights. In Amar’s discourse of 30th October 1793, he clearly stated that “nous croyons donc qu’une femme ne doit pas sortir de sa famille pour s’immiscer dans les affaires du gouvernement.” (we thus think that a woman must not leave her family in order to get involved in the affairs of the government.) The civil code of 1804 stated in article 215 that a woman cannot utter a judgment without her husband’s authorization.

Nevertheless, there were a few successful female artists during the period of the revolution. Among them, Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, one of the only four women artists to have been accepted in 1783 into the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, a major achievement for a woman in the 18th century. She painted portraits of Marie Antoinette and various aristocrats. Many years later in her memoir she regretted the disappearance of the sort of gallantry associated with the Ancien Regime, affirming that the women ruled then and the revolution has dethroned this. Another successful woman, Labille – Guiard was an artist that actively favored the revolution.

Emancipating women legally an politically met with incomprehension.  “Since women have the same moral and intellectual capacities as men, anything but equality for women, argued Sophie Condorat, is by definition incompatible with the Rights of Man and discriminatory.”
To sum up, this obvious injustice of laws reduced women to the condition of slaves that will have to wait centuries to liberate themselves from the atrocities of man-imposed rules. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Rebel Heart

23 years of loving her each day even more :)

Happy Birthday, Madonna! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

One Very Special Rendez Vous

Elle: "Mon seul tabou, c'est l'homme marie."(My only taboo is the married man.)
Lui: "C'est fou ce que tu me plais, c'est dingue." (It's crazy how much I like you, it's mad.)

Even if "Paris in July" is over, I could not stay away from a supposedly great movie, with the talented Francois Cluzet, whose movies are a must and the beautiful Sophie Marceau. I was right. This is a piece of cinematic artistry one cannot soon forget. "Une rencontre" or "Quantum of Love" (2014)  tells the story of two people - a not so single woman and a very married man - who meet, fall in love but, for their "story not to end, in must never begin." Still, we can all create a reality that is quite what we wished for... or can we?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Cat

'I have a lovely cat', he said.
She almost believed him. Who would lie about their cat? 
They walked hand in hand, towards nowhere. She wondered why she trusted him so much. They had only met two hours before and he could be a serial killer, for all she knew. Still, he was smiling at her and she felt comfortable once again.

‘I want you to see my cat’, he said, grinning.

‘All right’, she heard herself answer.

It was the beginning of September and the trees were still dark green. There were children playing in front of their blocks of flats. School hadn't begun yet. Alice was a primary teacher, she loved children and they loved her back. Oliver was still a stranger to her, but one with a supposedly lovely cat.
‘We are almost there’, she heard him say.
There was nothing she feared in his voice. She usually didn't trust people that easily, but this time something was totally different. He was looking at her as if she was this special girl he didn't want to let go. She could not remember when someone had looked at her like this.
‘I live with my cat, but we have room for one more’, he added, laughing.
‘I don't mind sharing you’, she whispered, thinking she was becoming too flirtatious.
‘Here's your key, then.’
She took it, smiled at him and unlocked the door. The white cat greeted her with a long meow. It was love at first sight.