In effect, those two verses were where the author wrote Truth as she knew it, and that's why those verses shone. Unfortunately, since we've not yet seen the end of this conflict, and she had to describe that 'victory' metaphorically, she couldn't write a truth for that — it hasn't happened yet.

Here's the second of the prose paragraphs which particularly struck me — it spoke clearly to me amidst the great waves of poetically pretty confusions. I've broken it into three chunks for easier reading, although originally it was one unremitting mass of text:

The women say, the men have kept you at a distance, they have supported you, they have put you on a pedestal, constructed with an essential difference. 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 described the races they called inferior. They say, yes, these are the same domineering oppressors, the same masters who have said that negroes and women do not have a heart spleen liver in the same place as their own, that difference of sex difference of colour signify inferiority, their own right to domination and appropriation.

They say, yes, these are the same domineering oppressors who have written of negroes and women that they are universally cheats hypocrites tricksters liars shallow greedy faint-hearted, that their thinking is intuitive and illogical, that nature is what speaks most loudly in them, et cetera. They say, yes, these are the same domineering oppressors who sleep crouched over their money-bags to protect their wealth and who tremble with fear when night comes.

Strong, poetic, even compelling words — but not new ones, I think. Overall I found myself wondering where exactly this theoretically brilliant writing had so deconstructed male discourse. What male discourse? I didn't see any. Mythopoetic gibberish, however lovely, isn't sufficient to claim male cultural discourse has been deconstructed, refuted, or even just obliterated.

Yes, there were two compellingly evocative verses for me… but much of the rest was attractive but incomprehensible in terms of consistent storytelling, or cultural gender deconstruction — whether male, female, or completely postmodern.

That being said, I can't help but wonder if I'm missing something integral to this 'story' due to it being created (and perhaps based) in another culture's point of view. The individual phrases chosen are often lovely and evocative; there were two paragraphs which spoke poignantly indeed to me. Overall, however, I didn't find the book brilliant or revelatory. It was beautiful writing, true, but was it unique or new or even deconstructive? I did not find it so.

In closing

Les Guérillères is a slim volume and a quick read. I admit, the first time through I found myself glazing over a bit at the lack of coherency or consistency. I definitely enjoyed it more the second time through, when I already knew it made no clear sense and I would have to either appreciate the lovely prose poems for themselves, or get nothing much at all from it.

If you don't like free-form prose poetry, you're not a feminist, or you're not familiar with language as a medium of cultural training and conformance, then I fear you may not get much from the book at all, and I wouldn't recommend it. If you like sensually poetic prose wordplay, cross-cultural mythic references, or you understand culture as the basis for gender role creation and enforcement, then I'd recommend the book — but guardedly.

You probably won't get any startling new concepts, although you may find some pretty re-packaging of already well-known ideas. Read it more than once… I think it grows on you slowly.

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