The Sex of Science: Medicine, Naturalism, and Feminism in Lucie Delarue-Mardrus's Marie, fille-mère


Lucie Delarue-Mardrus published over forty novels during her lifetime, but her critical import has yet to be recognized. Delarue-Mardrus's first novel, Marie, fille-mère (1908), is both a rewriting of Zola's La Bête humaine and a feminist science of sex. The author's sentimentalized naturalist description of childbirth offers a moral and political critique of the patriarchal medical establishment and leads to an original theory of sexual desire that redefines the role of female sexual instincts. Further, Delarue-Mardrus's text acted as a kind of literary consciousness-raising for her largely female readership, thus signaling a new form of feminist politics at the turn of the nineteenth century. (RLM)

Mesch, Rachel L.
Release Year:
Project MUSE: 
2003 Fall-Winter; 31(3-4): 324-40.