Australian Journal of French Studies

Family Values in Emmanuèle Bernheim's Un couple

Australian Journal of French Studies (2012), 49, (3), 226–240.

Abstract

Emmanuèle Bernheim's novel Un couple (1987) offers a stark look at how changes in contemporary France are undermining the exogamic imperatives that Levi-Strauss claimed, in his monumental work Les Structures élémentaires de la parenté (1948), to be the essential element of all social structures. Bernheim's minimalist work points out both the artificiality and fragility of the nuclear family, and questions centuries of literary traditions which have postulated that the formation of a "couple" can be the only satisfying conclusion to a story about a love affair. This article is informed by the work of Warren Motte (Small Worlds: Minimalism in Contemporary French Literature, 1999), Peter Brooks (Body Work: Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative, 1993), Luce Irigaray (Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un, 1977) and Adam Phillips (On Flirtation, 1994).

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Author details

Alesch, Jeanine

Alesch, Jeanine