Les Écrits D'yvette Z’graggen, RomanciÈre Suisse Contemporaine

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Born in Geneva in 1920, Yvette Z’Graggen published her first novel in 1944 and over the course of the following sixty years (her most recent work appeared in 2003) has written more than fifteen books. She has carved out for herself a position as one of the most popular and successful writers in French-speaking Switzerland; several of her books have been translated into German, and she has won a number of prestigious literary prizes. In spite of this success, because of inherent difficulties in being a Swiss writer published in Switzerland, Z’Graggen is not well-known outside her native country. Previous studies of Z’Graggen (in French) appeared in 1987 and 1997, the latter being a series of interviews with Z’Graggen. This study examines Z’Graggen’s work in its entirety and provides an overview of the themes she has developed, renewed and reworked over the course of her career. By adopting a thematic approach, the book demonstrates how these themes recur and interlink, enabling the reader to reach conclusions about the importance of Z’Graggen within la literature romande. Given the considerable interest in recent years in both women’s writing and Francophone literature, it is fitting that a writer of Z’Graggen’s stature should be studied in detail and become better known outside Switzerland.


“ ... Can all of Z’Graggen’s work be described as feminist? No, in the sense that Yvette Z’Graggen has never been interested in displays of public involvement. In other ways, her work is clearly feminist, since her work, be it autobiography or fiction, revolves around women, heroines who get older as she does: they are twenty years old during the War, the ‘années silencieuses,’ facing the difficulties of working in a male-dominated world and then experiencing the disappointments of retirement ... By moving between the writer’s life and recurring themes and by expanding the analysis from individual relations to social preoccupations, Dr. Charnley’s critical approach highlights the coherence of Yvette Z’Graggen’s writing. Thanks to Dr. Charnley, readers will discover the voice of woman who, despite hailing from a country which seems to remain constantly on the political sidelines, continues to have a profound effect on new generations.” – (from the Preface) Professor Françoise Fornerod, University of Lausanne

“This monograph on Yvette Z’Graggen, the first in almost a decade, examines her novels and autobiographical writings under five thematic headings. The importance of the parallels between the creative and autobiographical works is highlighted since the situations and historical framework of Z’Graggen’s life provide the narrative structures and themes of her novels ... This monograph enhances our perception of Z’Graggen, and is to be welcomed as an important scholarly contribution to the critical literature on one of the leading women writers in French-speaking Switzerland ...” – Malcolm Pender, Professor Emeritus, University of Strathclyde

“ ... Dr. Charnley offers a substantial monograph, in which she traces a number of themes throughout Z’Graggen’s entire oeuvre. This is quite useful, since very few non-specialists will have read all the novels ... The methodology is not ostentatiously complex – which will probably endear it to many readers – but comes close to a kind of psychocriticism through a close examination of very personal themes: relations between children and parents, between the sexes, etc. ...” – Professor David L. Parris, Trinity College

Table of Contents

Summary in English
1. Enfants et famille: ‘Cette impossible, inextricable relation’
2. La vie des femmes: ‘un autre voix’
3. La migration: la longue histoire de l’ascendance germanique
4. La guerre: ‘le meilleur enfermement ne valait pas la plus mauvaise liberté’
5. La critique de la société: un engagement politique?
Conclusión: Fidélité et renouvellement
Résumés des oeuvres d’Yvette Z’Graggen

Other France/French: All Subjects Books