Genius Envy: Women Shaping French Poetic History, 1801–1900

Hardcover | December 20, 2016

byAdrianna M. Paliyenko

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In Genius Envy, Adrianna M. Paliyenko uncovers a forgotten history: the multiplicity and diversity of nineteenth-century French women’s poetic voices. Conservative critics of the time attributed the phenomenon of genius to masculinity and dismissed the work of female authors as “feminine literature.” Despite the efforts of leading thinkers, critics, and literary historians to erase women from the pages of literary history, Paliyenko shows how these female poets invigorated the debate about the origins of genius and garnered considerable recognition in their time for their creativity and bold aesthetic ideas.
This fresh account of French women poets’ contributions to literature probes the history of their critical reception. The result is an encounter with the texts of celebrated writers such as Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, Anaïs Ségalas, Malvina Blanchecotte, Louisa Siefert, and Louise Ackermann. Glimpses at the different stages of each poet’s career show that these women explicitly challenged the notion of genius as gender specific, thus advocating for their rightful place in the canon.
A prodigious contribution to studies of nineteenth-century French poetry, Paliyenko’s book reexamines the reception of poetry by women within and beyond its original context. This balanced and comprehensive treatment of their work uncovers the multiple ways in which women poets sought to define their place in history.

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From the Publisher

In Genius Envy, Adrianna M. Paliyenko uncovers a forgotten history: the multiplicity and diversity of nineteenth-century French women’s poetic voices. Conservative critics of the time attributed the phenomenon of genius to masculinity and dismissed the work of female authors as “feminine literature.” Despite the efforts of leading thin...

Adrianna M. Paliyenko is Charles A. Dana Professor of French at Colby College. Her most recent book, coedited with Joseph Acquisto and Catherine Witt, is Poets as Readers in Nineteenth-Century France.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 10 × 7 × 0.98 inPublished:December 20, 2016Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271077085

ISBN - 13:9780271077086

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part One: Reception Matters
1. Un/sexing Genius
2. Literary Reception and its Discontents
3. The Other History of French Poetry, 1801-1900

Part Two: Women Thinking Through Poetry and Beyond
4. Anais Ségalas on Race, Gender, and “la mission civilisatrice”
5. Work, Genius, and the In-Between in Malvina Blanchecotte
6. The Poetic Edges of Dualism in Louisa Siefert
7. Louise Ackermann’s Turn to Science
8. Marie Krysinska on Eve, Evolution and the Property of Genius

Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“After centuries during which genius was defined as exclusively male, Adrianna Paliyenko provides a brilliant, learned, and highly readable account of the extremes to which men went in order to deny genius to women. With equal brilliance she restores several pages excised from nineteenth-century literary history by this gendering, and she gives voice to French women poets as they challenge their exclusion. Thanks to Paliyenko’s groundbreaking book, the sexing of genius has lost its self-evidence, and the nineteenth century has gained five major poets.”—Ann Jefferson, author of Genius in France: An Idea and Its Uses