By Oliver Davis

ISBN-10: 1429468025

ISBN-13: 9781429468022

ISBN-10: 9042020261

ISBN-13: 9789042020269

This wide-ranging examine appears at how the ageing method has alternately been figured in and excluded from twentieth-century French literature, philosophy and psychoanalysis. It espouses a serious interdisciplinarity and calls into query the assumptions underlying a lot study into growing older within the social sciences, paintings during which the risks of getting old are virtually continuously suppressed. It bargains an enormous reappraisal of Simone de Beauvoir's nice yet ignored past due treatise, l. a. Vieillesse, and provides the 1st big dialogue of a misplaced documentary movie approximately previous age during which Beauvoir looks and which she helped to write down, prom AU can pay DE l. a. VIEILLESSE. wondering Beauvoir's personal quite reductive studying of Gide's paintings on previous age, this examine analyses the way his magazine and Ainsi soit-il test with various representational types for the senescent topic. The stumble upon among psychoanalysis and getting old is framed via a analyzing of Violette Leduc's autobiographical trilogy, during which she means that psychoanalysis, to its detriment, easily can't enable growing old to indicate. This declare is confirmed in a severe survey of contemporary theoretical and medical paintings via psychoanalysts attracted to growing older in France, the united kingdom and the USA. finally, Hervé Guibert's lately republished photo-novel approximately his aged great-aunts, Suzanne et Louise, is tested as a piece of intergenerational empathy and is located, moreover, to be a tremendous assertion of his photographic aesthetic. Navigating among the extremes of fury ('age rage') and serene attractiveness ('going gently'), this learn goals all through to ascertain the function which aging performs in formal, in addition to thematic, phrases in writing the lifetime of the topic

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Beauvoir’s book also aspires to this unflinching gaze and testifies to the difficulties involved in achieving it. As she says of Frans Hals’s painting, ‘The Regentesses’ (see cover), so too of her own work: ‘il n’exalte ni ne décrie la vieillesse: il cherche à saisir la vérité des visages qu’il représente’ (La Vieillesse, p. 175). 12 As writing and as historical documents, these examples of the ontological tradition are far less complex and interesting than Beauvoir’s La Vieillesse. As I noted in my Introduction, the social science of gerontology, in so far as it is a specialized discipline, a professional enterprise with its own institutional context and shared assumptions, is a recent phenomenon.

Beauvoir’s La Vieillesse 37 difference in analytical perspective from the first part to the second also corresponds to a difference in the kind of writing and the material under consideration: broadly speaking, this may be characterized in terms of a split between the discourse of the social sciences on one hand and literary-philosophical discourse on the other; or, put differently, a split between gerontology and ontology. Beauvoir’s book juxtaposes a wide variety of radically different ways of looking at old age, perspectives which have seldom – before or for that matter since – been embraced, together, between the covers of a single work on the subject.

9: ‘De la maturité à la vieillesse’. 51 In Le Deuxième Sexe, women’s sexual development is construed in terms of a succession of violent crises: ‘la crise de l’adolescence’ (II, p. 140), ‘la crise de la puberté’ (II, p. 63), birth – ‘cette crise’ (I, p. 68). ’ (II, p. 148). 52 She then moves on to characterize the subjective experience of the older woman in terms of a feeling of depersonalization: Un des traits les plus accusés chez la femme vieillissante, c’est un sentiment de dépersonnalisation qui lui fait perdre tous repères objectifs […] ce n’est pas moi cette vieille femme dont le miroir renvoie le reflet.

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