Her new novel, “Les Guérillères” (though novel is hardly the word for it), now appears in an American edition. Monique Wittig was born in the. Les Guérillères has ratings and 55 reviews. Mala said: They say henceforward what they are is not subject to compromise. They say they must now stop. Monique Wittig’s second novel Les Guerilleres is obviously a tale of war, given that the morpheme “guerre” is clearly discernible in the work’s title. However, the .

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Wittig writes in French, from a feminist perspective.

Structurally, it is difficult to call this work of fiction a novel in the traditional sense. There is no one character that the book follows. Occasionally, specific people are mentioned, but each is only mentioned for a few sentences before the writing reverts back to the more generalized story.

Les Guérillères – Wikipedia

Additionally, the book does not set up a linear narrative. These vignettes serve to give glimpses into the everyday life and the war of this possibly futuristic society.

Some of the vignettes tell stories of specific people living in the society, some of them tell of the goddesses that the society worship, some tell of the collective history which seems to point to a time much like present day and some tell of specific points in the war between the sexes.

It is not abundantly clear that the vignettes are even in a relatively chronological order, which raises some interesting questions. For example, is the seemingly utopian all-female? In terms of format, Wittig makes sure that this book looks different than other books from the get-go. The first thing the reader is confronted with in this book is a poem in all capital letters. As guerillerss book progresses, the vignettes are dispersed between lists of names which are also in all capital letters.


UI Press | Monique Wittig | Les Guerilleres

The effect of these lists is like that of a war memorial, name after name of those lost in the fight. Less frequently, but perhaps more strikingly, the vignettes hold giant guerillerew between them, whole pages on which the only thing that is written is a circle. There are quite a few vignettes that tell the significance of the circle, which is the symbol of the vulva. The strength of this book, for me, is in this formatting. We know what the language and the literature of tradition looks like.

But what does the language and the literature of the oppressed look like? Are there heroes or heroines? Does it undermine the traditional chronological order?

Are symbols important enough to include? How do you tell the story of a group of people?

Are there stories that are better told in non-traditional formats? What happens when these formats become traditional? There seems to be something very important happening in the pronouns being used and those pronouns leave the reader with a plethora of questions.

The answers to these questions make for very different readings of the book. I think where this book falls short is in the heavy-handedness of the story itself. Perhaps I am idealistic, but I like to believe that it will not take an apocalyptic war to create an equal and free society. The combination of this war of mythic proportions and the unusual format come together in a way that feels pedantic.


Though the book makes the reader think and ask questions, it also feels like it is leading the reader to specific thoughts and questions instead of allowing the reader to come to her own conclusions. This book feels like a hybrid between theory and literature, a theoretical discussion made material on the page. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

Form and Format in Fiction: Les Guérillères by Monique Wittig

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