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Women's Stories in Le Mercure Galant (1672-1710)

Feminine Fictions in an Early French Periodical

232 pages
Amsterdam University Press
What do women want to read? Jean Donneau de Visé, the founder and editor in chief of Le Mercure Galant, one of France's first newspapers, was arguably the first journalist to ask this question and to recognize and capitalize upon the influence of female readers and their social networks. By including "custom content" and performing the act of listening to women, Le Mercure Galant situates itself as an intermediary, using the nouvelle as a vehicle to amplify women's voices. These fictions, presented as true stories, depict incidents and situations that women often bore silently in real life: domestic violence, romantic betrayal, dishonor, or simply loneliness. By publishing these stories alongside its chronicle of historic events, the Mercure lends credence and prestige to depictions of the private life of anonymous individuals, exploiting the ostensibly anodyne genre of "women's fiction" to disseminate modern ideas about women's agency.
Author Bio
Deborah Steinberger is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Delaware. She specializes in French seventeenth-century literature. Her previous publications include critical editions of epistolary and dramatic works by Françoise Pascal, as well as articles on Molière, Donneau de Visé, and Le Mercure Galant.