in Apology for the Woman Writing and Other Works

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780226305554
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226305264 | DOI:

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This chapter discusses Marie le Jars de Gournay's “The Apology for the Woman Writing.” The “Apology” is, in essence, a profuse autobiographical self-justification, with “apology” meaning “defense,” on the model—invoked self-consciously and rather grandiosely—of Plato's Apology of Socrates. In defending herself, like the persecuted Greek philosopher, against slanders that menaced her reputation and, if not her life, her livelihood (by thwarting her prospects for patronage), Gournay composed what is undoubtedly the most revealing, on several levels, of her three major autobiographical pieces. It takes the readers to her very origins as a writer in the Promenade of Monsieur de Montaigne, where her quasi-mystical ideal of communion among grands esprits—those of antiquity joining with Michel de Montaigne himself—was already at loggerheads with the imperatives of histoire tragique.

Keywords: Marie Gournay; Plato; Apology of Socrates; Promenade; Michel de Montaigne; histoire tragique; Woman Writing; apology; defense

Chapter.  1550 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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