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Mothers of Invention draws together innovative works of fiction written by French and Quebec feminists in the mid-1970s. Through an analysis of the strategies adopted by Helene Cixous, Madeleine Gagnon, Nicole Brossard, and Jeanne Hyvrard as they rework maternal and (pro)creative metaphors and play with language and conventions of genre, Milena Santoro identifies a transatlantic community of women writers who share a subversive aesthetic that participates in, even as it transforms, the tradition of the avant-garde in twentieth-century literature. Santoro elucidates notoriously difficult works by the four "mothers of invention" studied - Cixous and Hyvrard from France, and Gagnon and Brossard from Quebec - showing how the rethinking of images associated with femininity and motherhood, a disruptive approach to language, and a subversive relation to novelistic conventions characterize these writers' search for a writing that will best express women's desires and dreams. Mothers of Invention situates such ideologically motivated textual practices within the avant-garde tradition, even as it suggests how women's experimental writings collectively transform our understanding of that tradition. Santoro makes clear the shared ethical and aesthetic commitments that nourished a transatlantic community whose contribution to mainstream literature and cultural productions, including postmodernism, is still being felt today.
McGill-Queen's University Press
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