The female vampire
Chantal Chawaf ’s melancholic autofiction
in Women’s writing in contemporary France

This chapter explores the possibility of writing 'de la mélancolie' through focusing on the work of Chantal Chawaf, whose writing may be described as 'melancholic autofiction/ melancholic autobiographical fiction. It deals with Chawaf's 1993 novel, Vers la lumière, which is narrated by a woman, in France, who witnessed the brutal murder of her parents as a very young child in the family home, Meininguel. The chapter focuses on the figure of the female vampire in Vers la lumière in order to explore what it means to 'write melancholia' in the first person. In Julia Kristeva's model, the melancholic subject, unable to mourn and thus exiled from language and symbolisation, remains attached to the mother. In his 1915 essay, 'Mourning and melancholia', Sigmund Freud posits mourning and melancholia as different responses to the loss of a love object.

Women’s writing in contemporary France

New writers, new literatures in the 1990s

Editors: Gill Rye and Michael Worton


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