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 to emerge after we ponder them from the viewpoint of modern theoretical views: (faulty) unity, (fake) coherence, (carefully deliberate or subversive) deconstruction, loss (of love, self belief or credibility), or, even (utter) chaos and (alarming) confusion? Which media revamp previous stereotypes, generate substitute reinterpretations, and suggest extra ambiguous solutions? What photos, scenes or frames stand out in modern representations of the kin? Uneasy contradictions and ambiguities emerge during this bilingual selection of techniques and style stories. The relatives plot turns out to thicken as family members 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 previous and 'familiar' subject, exploring the kingdom and standing of the relations in modern literature, tradition, serious and psychoanalytic concept and sociology
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Extra resources for Affaires de famille : the family in contemporary French culture and theory
Yet as I have sought to argue, in her play Ndiaye makes the fact of paternity, and the family structure of which paternity is a bastion, a potent source of charismatic authority. Maleness and paternity conspire to make Papa’s blackness a well-spring of augmented power and impregnability, in the face of which the rest of the family, apart from silent Ami, accept to make infinite sacrifices (and of course Ami the drug addict sacrifices herself in another way, which makes her just as much a victim of the structure Papa holds in place).
As the metonymic embodiment of the family structure itself, the family photograph, or photographs of family members passed around or exhibited within its magic circle, become talismans of the core from which non-members are excluded. The photograph, as a concrete document, helps to constitute the family negatively as a ring defined by what it excludes rather than what it contains. Fanny stands accused by the family of having tried, in the few snapshots where she appears, to adopt poses that play down her ‘anomalous’ looks – ‘l’éclat de sa particularité, l’originalité de ses traits’ (EF 153).
The stuff of family pours out in an incessant torrent, confronting us with the trop plein of a textual fabric which evokes belonging and proximity, then bitterly reiterates exclusion and estrangement at every turn. One of Ndiaye’s particularly distinctive features is her clear indebtedness to the mechanisms of fairy tale. The situations that she develops re-awaken deeply rooted anxieties about rejection, loss and exclusion and as Jean-Pierre Richard has commented, interpreting her texts requires close attention not to individual protagonists or events as realist constructions but to schemata and the functions of protagonists.