Christine Angot

Biography

Christine Angot was born Christine Schwartz in Châteauroux on 7 February 1959, and was brought up by her single-parent mother. They subsequently moved to Reims. Later Christine took her father’s surname, Angot. She went to university in Rheims, specialising in English and Law, but gave up after a year in order to pursue her writing career. She lived in Bruges, Nice, where her daughter was born, and Montpellier, before moving to Paris.

Her first novel Vu du ciel was published by L’Arpenteur-Gallimard in 1990. From Léonore, toujours (1994) on, Angot’s texts have been mostly associated with the genre autofiction, despite the author’s rejection of the term to describe her work. Nonetheless, much of the critical analysis of Angot’s novels has centred on the question of whether the voice and experiences of the literary construct ‘Christine Angot’ in her texts can be equated with those of the author. The construction of the texts themselves resists such a closure on many levels.

Their intertextuality is complex. Any given texts tend to refer not only to the growing number of works in Angot’s own corpus, but also to many others, from novels to legal letters and newspaper interviews. In many cases intertextuality is used to confound the notion that the ‘Christine Angot’ of the novels has the distinct voice of a unified subject. Yet, as in autofiction, it is always possible that, although multiple and penetrated by other voices and experiences, the literary construct ‘Christine Angot’ is connected to the real-life Christine Angot in some measure that is nevertheless hard to define.

References to an incestuous relationship with her father Pierre Angot appear throughout Angot’s oeuvre. Yet, Angot has steadfastly challenged the reading of her work as therapeutic autobiography. Indeed, her text Interview (1995) attacks journalists who collapse the author/narrator distinction and reduce her texts to simple confessionals. Performance is also an important element in Angot’s work: some of her texts are categorized as ‘theatre’; others have been performed, and Angot frequently gives public readings of her work. Her media interviews are also often performances, to the extent that the truth-value of what she says is never certain.

Critical responses to Angot’s work are starkly polarized: some critics reject it outright, often in quite violent terms, as narcissistic, boring and lacking in literary quality, while others are enthusiastic about the complexity of her writing, and its engagement with the media, the literary establishment, wound culture, power relations, reading, the boundaries between literature and reality, and with literature itself. In 2013, she was found guilty of abusing the privacy of her partner’s ex-wife in her books.

Bibliography

Vu du ciel (Paris: L'Arpenteur-Gallimard, 1990)

Not to be (Paris: L'Arpenteur-Gallimard, 1992)

Léonore, toujours (Paris: L’Arpenteur-Gallimard 1994; Fayard, 1997)

Interview (Paris: Fayard, 1995)

Les Autres (Paris: Fayard, 1997)

L'Usage de la vie (Paris: Fayard, 1997)

Sujet Angot (Paris: Fayard, 1998)

‘Ecrire n'est pas une vie’ (Sites: The Journal of 20th-Century/Contemporary French Studies 3.2 [Autumn 1999], pp. 267-72)

L’Inceste (Paris: Stock, 1999)

‘La Page noire’ (Libération [6 November 1999])

‘Sujet: l’amour’ (L’Infini, 68 [1999])

Quitter la ville (Paris: Stock, 2000)

Normalement followed by La Peur du lendemain (Paris: Stock, 2001)

Pourquoi le Brésil? (Paris: Stock, 2002)

Peau d'Ane (Paris: Stock, 2003)

Les Désaxés (Paris: Stock, 2004)

Une partie du coeur (Paris: Stock, 2004)

Rendez-vous (Paris: Flammarion, 2006)

Le Marché des amants (Paris: Seuil, 2008)

Les Petits (Paris: Flammarion, 2011)

Une semaine de vacances (Paris: Flammarion, 2012)

La Petite Foule (Paris: Flammarion, 2014)

Un amour impossible (Paris: Flammarion, 2015)

 

Criticism

Baillargeon, Mercedes: ‘Victime ou martyre? Scandale, paranoia et tragédie dans L'Inceste et Quitter la ville de Christine Angot’ (Women in French Studies, 23, 2015, pp. 85-103)

Cornelius, Nathalie G.: ‘Christine Angot: Quitter la ville’ (French Review, 75,2 [December 2001], pp. 380-1)

Cruickshank, Ruth: ‘Christine Angot: Trauma, Transgression and the Write to Reply’ in Fin de millénaire French Fiction: The Aesthetics of Crisis ed. by Ruth Cruickshank (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 168-213)

Edwards, Natalie: ‘Christine Angot’s Second-Person Autobiography’ in This‘Self’ Which is Not One: Women’s Life-Writing in French ed. by Natalie Edwards and Chris Hogarth (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010, pp. 149-60)

— : ‘“Écrire pour ne plus avoir honte”: Christine Angot's and Annie Ernaux's Shameless Bodies’ in The Female Face of Shame, ed. Erica L. Johnson and Patricia Moran (Indiana University Press, 2013)

— : ‘Autofiction in the Dock: The Case of Christine Angot’ in Protean Selves: First-Person Voices in Twenty-First-Century French and Francophone Narratives ed. by Adrienne Angela and Erika Fülöp (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014)

Faeber, Johan: ‘Le bruissement d'elles ou le questionnement identitaire dans l'oevre de Christine Angot’ in Nouvelles écrivaines: nouvelles voix?ed. by Nathalie Morello and Catherine Rodgers (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002)

Forcolin, Francesca: ‘L’Intime en scène: l’obscénité du corps dans l’écriture de Christine Angot et Annie Ernaux’ in Autour de l'extrême littéraire ed. by Alastair Hemmens and Russell Williams (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012, pp. 150-60)

Guichard, Thierry: ‘Christine Angot: La bâtarde libre’ (Le Matricule des Anges, 21 [November-December 1997]; online at http://www.lmda.net/mat/MAT02125.htm)

Havercroft, Barbara: ‘Irreverent Revelations: Women's Confessional Practices of the Extreme Contemporary’ in Women's Writing in Twenty-First-Century France: Life as Literature ed. by Amaleena Damlé and Gill Rye (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2013, pp. 154-67)

Hughes, Alex: ‘“Moi qui ai connu l’inceste, je m’appelle Christine” [I have had an incestuous relationship and my name is Christine]: Writing Subjectivity in Christine Angot’s Incest Narratives’ (Journal of Romance Studies I, 2.1 [Spring 2002], pp. 65-77)

Jordan, Shirley: ‘Reconfiguring the Public and the Private: Intimacy, Exposure and Vulnerability in Christine Angot’s Rendez-vous’ (French Cultural Studies 18.2 [June 2007], pp. 201-18)

—: ‘Autofiction, Ethics and Consent: Christine Angot’s Les Petits’ in Self-Fictions ([Special issue]  Revue Critique de Fixxion Française/Critical Review of Contemporary French Fixxion, 4, 2012, pp. 3-14)

Korthals Altes, Liesbeth: ‘Ironie, ethos textuel et cadre de lecture: le cas de Sujet Angot in L’Expérience de lecture ed. by V. Jouve (Paris: Editions L’Improviste, 2005, pp. 85-100)

Le Matricule des Anges ([Special issue], 21, November-December 1997)

Lindon, M.: ‘Trois, deux, un...Angot’ (Libération [26 August 1999])

Marcelli, Sylvain: ‘Un mélange incestueux’ (L’Interdit [February 2001])

Picard, Anne-Marie: ‘La singlerie de l'écrivain, au-delà du leurre de l'identité: Christine Angot’ in Aventures et expériences littéraires: Écritures des femmes en France au début du vingt-et-unième siècle ed. by Amaleena Damlé and Gill Rye (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2014, pp. 21-37)   

Reader, Keith: ‘Phallic Narrative Transvestism: Christiane Rochefort and Christine Angot’ in The Abject Object: Avatars of the Phallus in Contemporary French Theory, Literature and Film (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2006, pp.135-163)

Rye, Gill: Christine Angot by Christine Angot et al. (Unpublished paper presented at the Second International WIF Conference, April 22-24 2004, Scripps College, Claremont, CA; online at http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/343/)

— : ‘”Il faut que le lecteur soit dans le doute”: Christine Angot's Literature of Uncertainty’ (Dalhousie French Studies: Hybrid voices, Hybrid Texts: Women's Writing at the Turn of the Millennium ed. by Gill Rye [Special issue, Autumn 2004, pp. 117-26]

—:  ‘In Uncertain Terms: Mothering without Guilt in Marie Darrieussecq’s Le Mal de mer and Christine Angot’s Leonore, toujours (L'Esprit Createur: A New Generation: Sex, Gender and Creativity in Contemporary Women's Writing in French ed. by Gill Rye [Special issue, 45.1 [Spring 2005])

—:  ‘L’histoire d’amour chez Christine Angot: romance or betrayal?’ (Unpublished paper presented at the 20th-21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium: ‘Diversity and Difference in France and the Francophone World’, 1-3 April 2004, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL [Panel: Gender/Genre Difference and the Love Story]; online at http://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/345/)

—:  ‘Registering Trauma: the Body in Childbirth in Contemporary French Women’s Writing’ (Nottingham French Studies 45.3 [Autumn 2006])

—: ‘Narratives of Birth: Voicing Trauma’ in Narratives of Mothering: Women’s Writing in Contemporary France by Gill Rye (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2009, pp. 54-74)

—: ‘Narratives of Mothering without Guilt’ Narratives of Mothering: Women’s Writing in Contemporary France by Gill Rye (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2009, pp. 139-54)

— : ‘Christine Angot et l’écriture de soi’ in Le Roman français de l’extrême contemporain: écritures, engagements, énonciations, ed. by Barbara Havercroft, Pascal Michelucci and Pascal Riendeau (Quebec: Nota Bene, 2010, pp. 423-39)

— [ed.]:  L'Esprit Createur: A New Generation: Sex, Gender and Creativity in Contemporary Women's Writing in French ed. by Gill Rye [Special issue, 45.1 [Spring 2005])

— and Worton, Michael [eds.]: Women's Writing in Contemporary France: New Writers, New Literatures in the 1990s (Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 2002)

—: ‘Public Places, Intimate Spaces: Christine Angot’s Incest Narratives’ in Space, Place and Landscape in Contemporary Francophone Women’s Writing, ed. by Marie-Claire Barnet and Shirley Jordan (Dalhousie French Studies, 93 [Special issue], Winter 2010, pp. 63-73)

Sadoux, Marion:  ‘Christine Angot's Autofictions: Literature and/or Reality' in Women's Writing in Contemporary France: New Writers, New Literatures in the 1990s ed. by Gill Rye and Michael Worton (Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 2002, pp. 171-181)

Savigneau, Josyane: ‘La Force Angot' (Le Monde [3 September 1999])

 

Interviews

 

Bourmeau, Sylvain: ‘L’inceste est une affaire sociale’ (Libération, 3 September 2012) online at http://www.liberation.fr/livres/2012/09/03/l-inceste-est-une-affaire-sociale_843627

Clark, Pascale: ‘L’écriture selon Christine Angot’ (France Inter, 6 September 2012) online at http://www.enviedecrire.com/lecriture-selon-christine-angot/

Guichard, Thierry: ‘En literature, la morale n’existe pas’ (Interview with Christine Angot) (Le Matricule des anges 21, November-December 1997) online at www.lmda.net/mat/MAT02127.html

Henric, Jacques: ‘Christine Angot: Pourquoi le Brésil?’ (Art Press 282, September 2002)

Jacob, Didier: ‘Il était une fois Angot et Millet’ (Le Nouvel Observateur, 5-11 June 2003)

Marin La Meslée, Valérie: ‘Christine Angot: Interview’ (Magazine Littéraire 335, 1995, p. 81)

Rousseau, Christine and Savigneau, Josyane: ‘Angot, Millet : deux enquêtes sur l'amour’ (Le Monde: Le Monde des livres, 28 August 2008) online http://www.lemonde.fr/livres/article/2008/08/29/angot-millet-deux-enquetes-sur-l-amour_1088734_3260.html

Savigneau, Josyane: ‘Retour de plume’ (Le Monde: Le Monde des livres, 25 August 1995)

 

Online Resources

Rye, Gill: Christine Angot by Christine Angot et al. (Unpublished paper presented at the Second International WIF Conference, April 22-24 2004, Scripps College, Claremont, CA)

Rye, Gill: 'L’histoire d’amour chez Christine Angot: romance or betrayal?’ (Unpublished paper presented at the 20th-21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium: ‘Diversity and Difference in France and the Francophone World’, 1-3 April 2004, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL [Panel: Gender/Genre Difference and the Love Story])