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Barthes, R. (2012). Novels and Children. In Barthes, R. Mythologies: The Complete Edition, in a New Translation. , pp. 56-58

56

[...] But make no mistake: women must not suppose they can enjoy the advantages of this arrangement without first submitting to the eternal status of femininity. Women are on earth to give men children; let them write all they like, let them ornament their condition, but on no account must they leave it: their biblical destiny is not to be disturbed by the advantage which has been shared with them, and they must forthwith pay, by the tribute of their maternity, for this bohemianism naturally attached to the writer's life.

Therefore be courageous, be free: play at being men, write as they do; but never get far away from them; live under their gaze, compensate for your novels by your children; enjoy your freedom, but be sure to come back to your condition. A novel, a child, a little feminism, a little conjugality, fasten art's adventure to the solid pillars of the home: both will greatly profit from the reciprocation; where myths are concerned, mutual help is always fruitful.

[...] And so all is for the best in the best of worlds--Elle's world: women, be confident you can very likely accede as well as men to the superior status of creation. But husbands too should quickly be reassured: their wives will not be taken away from them for all that, but remain no less a natural and available genitrix. Elle puts on its nimble show right out of Molière, says Yes on one side and No on the other, careful to upset no one; like Don Juan between his two peasant girls, Elle says to women: you're worth just as much as men; and to men: your wives will never be anything but women.

At first men seem absent from this double parturition; children and novels appear to come by themselves, and both belong only to the mother; well, after seeing seventy editions of works and offspring in the same parentheses, you might suppose they were all fruits of the imagination and of dreams, miraculous products of an ideal parthenogenesis which would present a woman with both the Balzacian joys of creation and the tender joys of maternity. Where is the man in this family portrait? Nowhere and everywhere, like a sky, a horizon, an authority which simultaneously determines and limits a condition. Such is the world of Elle: here women are always a homogeneous species, a constituted body jealous of its privileges, even more enamored of its servitudes; here men are never on the inside, femininity is pure, free, powerful; but men are everywhere outside, exerting pressure on all sides, making everything exist; they are eternally the creative absence, that of the Racinian god: a world without men but entirely constituted by the male gaze, the feminine world of Elle is precisely that of the gynoceum.

In all of Elle's functions we find this double movement: close the gynocceum, then and only then release women inside. Love, work, write, be femmes de lettres or businesswomen, but always remember that men exist, and that you are not made they are: your order is free on condition that it depends on his; your freedom is a luxury, possible only if you first acknowledge the obligations of your nature. Write if you like, we shall always be quite proud; but don't forget, on the other hand, to produce children, for that is your destiny. A Jesuit morality: come to terms with the morality of your condition, but never compromise about the dogma on which it rests.

on Elle listing female authors along with the number of children they have

soooo good

—p.56 by Roland Barthes 1 year, 7 months ago

[...] But make no mistake: women must not suppose they can enjoy the advantages of this arrangement without first submitting to the eternal status of femininity. Women are on earth to give men children; let them write all they like, let them ornament their condition, but on no account must they leave it: their biblical destiny is not to be disturbed by the advantage which has been shared with them, and they must forthwith pay, by the tribute of their maternity, for this bohemianism naturally attached to the writer's life.

Therefore be courageous, be free: play at being men, write as they do; but never get far away from them; live under their gaze, compensate for your novels by your children; enjoy your freedom, but be sure to come back to your condition. A novel, a child, a little feminism, a little conjugality, fasten art's adventure to the solid pillars of the home: both will greatly profit from the reciprocation; where myths are concerned, mutual help is always fruitful.

[...] And so all is for the best in the best of worlds--Elle's world: women, be confident you can very likely accede as well as men to the superior status of creation. But husbands too should quickly be reassured: their wives will not be taken away from them for all that, but remain no less a natural and available genitrix. Elle puts on its nimble show right out of Molière, says Yes on one side and No on the other, careful to upset no one; like Don Juan between his two peasant girls, Elle says to women: you're worth just as much as men; and to men: your wives will never be anything but women.

At first men seem absent from this double parturition; children and novels appear to come by themselves, and both belong only to the mother; well, after seeing seventy editions of works and offspring in the same parentheses, you might suppose they were all fruits of the imagination and of dreams, miraculous products of an ideal parthenogenesis which would present a woman with both the Balzacian joys of creation and the tender joys of maternity. Where is the man in this family portrait? Nowhere and everywhere, like a sky, a horizon, an authority which simultaneously determines and limits a condition. Such is the world of Elle: here women are always a homogeneous species, a constituted body jealous of its privileges, even more enamored of its servitudes; here men are never on the inside, femininity is pure, free, powerful; but men are everywhere outside, exerting pressure on all sides, making everything exist; they are eternally the creative absence, that of the Racinian god: a world without men but entirely constituted by the male gaze, the feminine world of Elle is precisely that of the gynoceum.

In all of Elle's functions we find this double movement: close the gynocceum, then and only then release women inside. Love, work, write, be femmes de lettres or businesswomen, but always remember that men exist, and that you are not made they are: your order is free on condition that it depends on his; your freedom is a luxury, possible only if you first acknowledge the obligations of your nature. Write if you like, we shall always be quite proud; but don't forget, on the other hand, to produce children, for that is your destiny. A Jesuit morality: come to terms with the morality of your condition, but never compromise about the dogma on which it rests.

on Elle listing female authors along with the number of children they have

soooo good

—p.56 by Roland Barthes 1 year, 7 months ago

writing that's similar to the plays and novels of the French writer Honoré de Balzac; a Balzacian story is realistic, emphasizing tiny details to capture a scene or setting

57

both the Balzacian joys of creation and the tender joys of maternity

—p.57 by Roland Barthes
confirm
1 year, 7 months ago

both the Balzacian joys of creation and the tender joys of maternity

—p.57 by Roland Barthes
confirm
1 year, 7 months ago

(noun) the biological mother of a child

57

their wives will not be taken away from them for all that, but remain no less a natural and available genitrix

—p.57 by Roland Barthes
confirm
1 year, 7 months ago

their wives will not be taken away from them for all that, but remain no less a natural and available genitrix

—p.57 by Roland Barthes
confirm
1 year, 7 months ago

relating to Jean Racine (1639–1699), French dramatist (primarily a tragedian)

58

the creative absence, that of the Racinian god

—p.58 by Roland Barthes
uncertain
1 year, 7 months ago

the creative absence, that of the Racinian god

—p.58 by Roland Barthes
uncertain
1 year, 7 months ago