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Telling the Untellable: Negotiating Maternal Bereavement in Sophie Daull's Camille, mon envolée (2015)

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Sophie Daull's Camille, mon envolée (2015) is an autobiographical depiction of the sudden and traumatic loss of an only daughter (Camille) due to an undetected fatal bacterial infection. It is recounted uniquely from the maternal point of view and directly addresses the daughter throughout. It concerns an incredibly recent bereavement as the writing of the text, the author tells us, commences just one week after the daughter's death. Camille, mon envolée is a markedly intimate and brutally honest account of a mother who is an active witness to and, one could argue, participant in her daughter's agonizing death scene. The text captures the sense of powerlessness that is experienced by the mother, the incomprehensibility of the loss, the self-blame, and, finally, the coming to terms with it and the learning to live on, not without guilt, however. It also offers insight into maternal motivation for writing such a text, ranging from a quest for understanding and an outlet for grief, to a desire to preserve the daughter's memory. Furthermore, through close examination of the physical, psychological and social impact of the death of a child on mother figure subjectivity, Camille mon envolée successfully traces out for the reader the very specific characteristics of maternal bereavement and its overwhelmingly embodied nature. Finally, the text represents an engagement on the part of the grieving mother with what has been termed 'scriptotherapy' in a bid to negotiate this trauma and find a means, not only of remembering the daughter, but also of surviving the tragedy. In this respect, Camille, mon envolée is a text of resistance, where the unthinkable is confronted and the untellable bravely told.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 9, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The Irish Journal of French Studies is an annual international refereed journal published by the Association des Études Françaises et Francophones d'Irlande. Articles in English, French or Irish are welcomed on any aspect of research in the area of French and Francophone culture, society, literature and thought. Articles published within the last two years are available free online to members and may be purchased by non-members. All other articles are available on an open access basis.

    Please note that the Print ISSN listed for the journal on this website applies to volumes 1 to 10, and part of volume 16. All other volumes are published, in their entirety, on-line only.

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