Excess and Trangression in Simone de Beauvoir’s fiction:

 The discourse of Madness by Dr Alison Holland

October 31st, 2009

It is my pleasure to present you the new essay written by Dr Alison Holland, member of the international Simone de Beauvoir society. Dr Alison Holland is Associate Dean for Student Wellbeing, formerly Head of Modern Foreign Languages and Principal Lecturer in French, Northumbria University, UK. She has just published Excess and Trangression in Simone de Beauvoir’s fiction: The discourse of Madness (publisher Ashgate, ISBN: 978-0-7546-5152-1)

Alison Holland’s innovative book fills a gap in Beauvoir studies by focusing on the writer’s frequently neglected novels and short stories, L’Invitée, Les Mandarins, Les Belles Images, and La Femme rompue. In illuminating the density and rich complexity of Beauvoir’s style, Holland challenges the often accepted view that Beauvoir’s writing is flat, detached, and controlled, revealing, rather, that her prose is frequently disrupted and inflected by forceful emotion.


Holland shows that excess and transgression are intrinsic qualities of the texts, and argues that Beauvoir’s textual strategies duplicate madness in her fiction. Holland’s reading of Beauvoir’s fiction demonstrates the extent to which Beauvoir’s fiction undermines an ideologically patriarchal position on language. Her study is important not only for its re-evaluation of Beauvoir as a fiction writer but for its contribution to the wider debate on madness and literature.

I highly recommand you the reading of this essay.


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