Building A Digital Feminary

Notes on the names in Monique Wittig's Les Guérillères

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Monique Wittig's book Les Guérillères creates a mythopoetic realm in which women instigate a violent revolution. Wittig invokes the first names of approximately 585 women in the main body of the text and in lists of names in capital letters, set off from the body, a body which can be seen as a narrative or as vignettes or prose poems.

My goal is to provide points of entry to feminist history.

The names are keyholes that I look through to see facts, biographies, imagined future history, goddesses, and might-have-beens. At times, researching one name has led me through the keyhole, or through the looking-glass, to let me see whole communities of feminist women; in some cases my whole concept of the history of a time and place has shifted. The names and their possible meanings have been useful tools to dislocate my ways of knowing.

Each name will eventually be linked to at least one definition of the name's meaning, or a glossary entry tying the name to a woman in history, legend, or myth. These definitions and identifications are at times arbitrary. Whether Wittig had a specific "ANNA" in mind when she added the name to her list - a friend, an aunt, a queen, a bluestocking or pampheteer or a saint, is not possible to know in most cases.

The spelling of the names was often changed in the English translation. This Digital Feminary provides the French and English spellings of the names. Page numbers are provided for the French and English editions of the book, so that this Feminary can function as an index to either edition.

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