Les Guérillères
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Les Guérillères

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  224 ratings  ·  34 reviews
One of the most widely read and frequently cited feminist novels of our time. "A delectable epic of sex warfare...an extraordinary leap of the imagination into the politics of oppression and revolt." (Mary McCarthy)
Paperback, 144 pages
Published July 15th 1985 by Beacon Press (first published 1969)
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Meg Powers
This book really deserves a review more in-depth than "lyrically written disjointed barbarian woman vignettes," but that's all I got right now. It handles militant feminism in a palatable and beautifully written way that I don't find at all isolating or discomforting. It avoids the "men are pigs" cliche, even when the Amazonian barbarian babes are spearing them down,flaying them open, and tanning their hides. A lot of gorgeous pastoral,post-apocalyptic imagery punctuated by pages featuring eithe...more
Jacob Wren
Monique Wittig writes:

They play a game. It is performed on an enormous parade-ground. The ground is divided into zones corresponding to the colours of the spectrum. There are a hundred and fifty violet hoops a hundred and fifty indigo hoops a hundred and fifty blue hoops a hundred and fifty green hoops a hundred and fifty yellow hoops a hundred and fifty orange hoops a hundred and fifty red hoops. The teams consist of seventy-five persons each, arranged on either side of the midline of the parad...more
After at last overcoming the trauma of menstrual painting, I'm trying to rectify years of neglect of lesbian feminism by giving this one a shot. The prose is taut and the vignettes attempt to deal with the community or the crowd without burdening the reader with a psychological narrative centered around the development of one individual. The whole thing is rife with political implications that I'm only beginning to discover, but this is so much better than reading ethnographic descriptions of ri...more
Either this hadn't been translated yet when I was in college or it was really hard to find, but I was stuck reading it in French. There's nothing like trying to parse euphemisms for the clitoris in a foreign language.

It's a fantasy-esque story (sort of) of what all-female community might look like, like a more obtuse, abstract version of Joanna Russ's book The Female Man, which I suspect it inspired. It's interrupted every so often with lists of mythological heroines' names. Sometimes a little...more
Same style and format as The Lesbian Body. Wittig turns gender dogma on its head in such a beautiful way. Great for students taking feminist theory, even if the text is not assigned.
I was really debating whether or not to give this one 4 stars, but I'd say it's more of a 3.5, leaning down. I like Wittig-her essay "One is Not Born a Woman" is one of my faves in fem theory, and I really enjoy several from her collection "The Straight Mind." I see where she's going with Les Guerrileres, I do, and I respect it and often there are incredibly beautiful passages. I had tons of highlighting on fierce moments, and enjoyed reading it as it happened. But now I've set the book down and...more
I'm trying to read this in French. Wish me luck. Even so, Wittig's prose gleams through; makes me wish i could read it faster! In the next few weeks, I might get in a few pages a day at best.
[About a year later:
This is such a beautiful book. I wish I could read it without stumbling through with a French dictionary in hand. I think a translation would ruin the effect. Especially one that translates "elles" as "the women," as I've heard that the published English translation does. Talk about missi...more
"They say, men in their way have adored you like a goddess or else burned you at their stakes or else relegated you to their service in their back-yards. They say, so doing they have always in their speech dragged you in the dirt. They say, in speaking they have possessed violated taken subdued humiliated you to their hearts' content. They say, oddly enough what they have exalted in their words as an essential difference is a biological variation. They say, they have described you as they descri...more
problem 1: this is a series of prose poems. poetry is difficult to translate. i do not read french.

problem 2: radical feminist. some scenes ripe for worst anti-feminist satire. same with overarching symbol, asking it to carry many meanings, this being the o, the circle, the ‘vulval ring’. maybe all problems because of the attempt to create a feminist language.

problem 3: i am not lesbian but hetero. and a man. on the other hand, i like joanna russ’s female man… oh well, book is short, at least.
Anna Springer
This is one of the first books that taught me how to write a novel that works more like a multimedia installation than a regular event-contingent narrative. It is a brilliant, gorgeous book that not enough people know about. And, even if the boys at the end are girlish pony-tail boys who live to serve and sing Marxist songs, I can overlook that simple (but sexy to some) fetishization of feminized masculinity and call this work a proto-punk feminist masterpiece.
I am clearly not cut out for post-modern books. I admit this fault straight away, so that those of you who find them appealing can safely close this review, safe in the knowledge that I'm hopelessly out of touch.

With that past, Les Geurilleres was a slog for me. I love both science fiction and feminist theory, so the description had me waiting with bated breath for this book to be delivered. Alas, it is the style of writing which put me off, and the theory contained within is just simply outdate...more
This book is a true feminist/sci-fi treasure.

A utopian/dystopian society of lesbians take on the known world, with bullets...
Cryptic, but intriguing, this is probably the best-known work of the late Monique Wittig. The title does not refer to "female warriors” in the literal sense, but more in terms of women’s struggles in society throughout history. The novel is actually more of an anti-erotic work as Wittig’s goal is to downplay all the sexual stereotypes on the female body and advocate that society stop reacting to women simply in terms of their anatomy. She says women should fit in to the universality of human exp...more
"The women say that they could not eat hare veal or fowl, they say that they could not eat animals, but man, yes, they may. He says to them throwing his head back with pride, poor wretches of women, if you eat him who will go to work in the fields, who will produce food consumer goods, who will make the aeroplanes, who will pilot them, who will provide the spermatozoa, who will write the books, who in fact will govern? Then the women laugh, baring their teeth to the fullest extent" (97).
Incoherent and plotless. Terrible world building. Boring, despite explicit violence and explicit descriptions of female genitalia. Tries to be profound, but fails. The individual passages aren’t too bad, but there is absolutely nothing to tie them together. The constant listing of women’s names in capital letters did not add to the story.
Should be read in conjunction with The Female Man's sections on Whileaway. Some gorgeous passages interspersed with a lot of second wave naivete and reductionism.
Clint Dierker
Haven't finished.
Almost like a series of short dreams. Sometimes fascinating, sometimes sensuous, sometimes revolting. Always strong. Ideas that were empowering to women reading this in the late 1960's and early 1970's are still empowering to women today. In Wittig's world of wild women, Feminaries are the ancient sacred texts through which women learn about the intricacies of their bodies, and their sexuality. OOOOOOOO
Dec 07, 2008 Andrea added it
I would like to get a copy of this in english, as I think I'm missing a lot of the nuances reading it in the original french. But I found her vision of a female society interesting, all the more so for it's ephemeral feeling. It was...not vague, but a little dream like. Or maybe my french is not up to par.
Classic feminist text that is a surefire hit with anyone I've lent it to. Written in little pictorial vignettes, a narrative eventually becomes more obvious toward the end. Beautiful surreal images, unique landscapes. Favorite scene is with the hanging orbs that people sleep in..........
May 21, 2008 Bridget marked it as to-read
Shelves: book-club
May's book club pick.

sigh. yet another one to wait to finish until teachers aren't quitting left and right, I'm not scrambling to teach science, and I'm not staying ridiculously late because my students are afraid to go outside the building.
Anna Bedford
I usually love Wittig's theoretical work and essays, but this was difficult to enjoy. A feminist vision and manifesto, a great vision for the future, BUT I guess I like a plot...
Kate Maddalena
I'm re-reading some of my favorite feminisms because of a ... mood... I'm in lately,

ALSO--I remembered that this one could count as post-apocalyptica.
I read this a long time ago, remember liking it a lot, but I'll be damned if I can remember the specifics. I am not even sure if I own it anymore.
My favorite part of this book its notion that laughter is the radical artillery of women, which is pretty badass, if you ask me.
i like it, i like it.

the book can be found for a free read on ubu.com:::

Maybe some perfection is lost in translation into English but I loved this book in my youth and still love it now.
Jessica Bolton
Some things are lost in translation but still a thrilling revisionary manifesto.
"They say, the language you speak is made up of words that are killing you."
what can i say, it is really doing it for me on the abstract.
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Monique Wittig was a French author and feminist theorist particularly interested in overcoming gender and the heterosexual contract. She published her first novel, L'opoponax, in 1964 . Her second novel, Les Guérillères (1969), was a landmark in lesbian feminism.
More about Monique Wittig...
The Straight Mind: And Other Essays The Lesbian Body L'opoponax: Roman Across the Acheron Lesbian Peoples: Material for a Dictionary

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“Despite all the evils they wished to crush me with/
I remain as steady as the three-legged cauldron.”
“The women say that they could not eat hare veal or fowl, they say that they could not eat animals, but man, yes, they may. He says to them throwing his head back with pride, poor wretches of women, if you eat him who will go to work in the fields, who will produce food consumer goods, who will make the aeroplanes, who will pilot them, who will provide the spermatozoa, who will write the books, who in fact will govern? Then the women laugh, baring their teeth to the fullest extent.” 2 likes
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