The Boundaries of the Imagination: Writing Female Old Age from the Perspective of Youth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Douna Loup’s Les Lignes de ta paume (2012) foregrounds the fictional traversing of the experiential gap between youth and old age, voicing the experience of an elderly woman by an author fifty years her junior. It draws on the life experience of Linda Naeff (1936–2014), a Geneva-based artist who, from the age of sixty when she awakened from a soporific marriage until her death in 2014 at the age of eighty-eight, created over seven thousand works of art in her kitchen-cum-studio, to great critical acclaim. This article posits Les Lignes de ta paume as illustrative of an emerging twenty-first-century trend of French-language female-authored fictional narratives of female ageing that move beyond from the genre’s strong autobiographical tendency in the twentieth century. In a first instance, it examines the representation of ageing femininity in terms of increasing creativity, agency and autonomy in late life, before analysing the narrative strategies adopted in the heretofore atypical choice (in women’s writing as well as fiction in French more broadly) of featuring an aged female character in the work of a younger writer. It concludes with a discussion of the text’s negotiation of the boundary between biographical and imaginative writing, breached through an ethics of intimacy. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2021.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrangression(s) in Twenty-First-Century Women’s Writing in French
EditorsKate Averis, Eglė Kačkutė, Catherine Mao
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-44271-9
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-43569-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameFaux Titre
ISSN (Print)0167-9392


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