by Erika Ostrovsky
Southern Illinois University Press, 1991
Cloth: 978-0-8093-1642-7 | eISBN: 978-0-8093-8379-5
Library of Congress Classification PQ2683.I8Z8 1991
Dewey Decimal Classification 843.914


From the creation of a neuter pronoun in her earliest work, L’Opoponax, to the confusion of genres in her most recent fiction, Virgile, non, Monique Wittig uses literary subversion and invention to accomplish what Erika Ostrovsky appropriately defines as renversement, the annihilation of existing literary canons and the creation of highly innovative constructs.

Erika Ostrovsky explores those aspects of Wittig’s work that best illustrate her literary approach. Among the countless revolutionary devices that Wittig uses to achieve renversement are the feminization of masculine gender names, the reorganization of myth patterns, and the replacement of traditional punctuation with her own system of grammatical emphasis and separation. It is the unexpected quantity and quality of such literary devices that make reading Monique Wittig’s fiction a fresh and rewarding experience. Such literary devices have earned Wittig the acclaim of her critics and peers—Marguerite Duras, Mary McCarthy, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute, and Claude Simon, to name a few.

While analyzing the intrinsic value of each of Wittig’s fictions separately, Erika Ostrovsky traces the progressive development of Wittig’s major literary devices as they appear and reappear in her fictions. Ostrovsky maintains that the seeds of those innovations that appear in Wittig’s most recent texts can be found as far back as L’Opoponax. This evidence of progression supports Ostrovsky’s theory that clues to Wittig’s future endeavors can be found in her past.