Affaires de famille : the family in contemporary French by Welch, Edward; Barnet, Marie-Claire

By Welch, Edward; Barnet, Marie-Claire

'Famille, je vous ai (encore et toujours a l'esprit?), je vous aime un peu, beaucoup, ou je vous hais enormement?' What are households like in modern France? And what starts off to emerge after we reflect on them from the perspective of modern theoretical views: (faulty) solidarity, (fake) coherence, (carefully deliberate or subversive) deconstruction, loss (of love, self belief or credibility), or, even (utter) chaos and (alarming) confusion? Which media revamp outdated stereotypes, generate replacement reinterpretations, and suggest extra ambiguous solutions? What pictures, scenes or frames stand out in modern representations of the family members? Uneasy contradictions and ambiguities emerge during this bilingual choice of ways and style reviews. The relatives plot turns out to thicken as relations ties seem to loosen. Has 'the relatives' been misplaced from sight, or is it being reinvented in our collective imaginary? This publication proposes a brand new sequence of views and questions about an outdated and 'familiar' subject, exploring the nation and standing of the relations in modern literature, tradition, severe and psychoanalytic conception and sociology

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Extra info for Affaires de famille : the family in contemporary French culture and theory

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The protagonists of Nous form an extended family: the central, failing couple Yolande and Nathan, their respective parents and siblings and their own child. Introduced as a list of dramatis personae, each becomes known to us through the isolating, fragmented form of the interior monologue and as in Darrieussecq’s Bref séjour each remains drawn to the family as the chief means of accounting for self identity. When they think, they think family. In particular, despite the fact that all of them are parents, all speak their interior monologues as the wounded children they have never ceased to be and remain preoccupied by their relationship with their own parents at the expense of that with their children.

Several shared memories resurface as imagetexts in this disjointed family album: the sisters’ wellington boots, a monkey in a zoo, the family Volkswagen, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and other snapshot fragments offer a nostalgic template through which, as readers, we recall our own stock of childhood memories. Especially complex in terms of the construction and deconstruction of family is the memory of a moment of (literally earth shattering) dislocation as together the Johnsons watch while a cliff face fissures and part of a house and garden crash down to the beach with it.

Subsequent references will be given in the text, following the abbreviation AV. Figuring out the Family 55 or knowable. There is no affirmation of what we familiarly recognise as a good mother/daughter kinship tie. The narrator’s reunion with her sisters again holds her in suspense between familiarity and alienation and is characterised by a similar unease. Ominously, the two young women come to mind as she reads a book on the parricidal Papin sisters and she dimly recalls rumours that they have become alcoholics or drug addicts, although in fact they live innocuously enough in their flat in the Parisian banlieue and seem pleasant to the narrator.

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