Louise Michel: Communarde, Prisoner, and Writer of Children’s Tales

Anne E. Duggan (Wayne State University)

In this paper I will discuss Louise Michel’s Le Livre du jour de l’An. Historiettes, contes et légendes pour les enfants (The Book of New Year’s Day: Anecdotes, Tales, and Legends for Children, 1872), which she wrote and published while in prison, before she was deported to a prison camp in New Caledonia for her actions during the Paris Commune of 1871. I will discuss her importance to both French and Kanak (New Caledonia) folklore to then focus on her two ogre legends. The ogre tales in question draw from Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard” and “Sleeping Beauty.” I will consider first, how Michel transforms the fairy tale into legend (ostensibly for children); and second, I will examine how we can read the ogre as a figure for the politically and economically dominant class that oppresses the people.

Part of 24-05 Exploring 19th-Century British, French, and German Fairy Tales by Women through Women Writing Wonder (2021), Tuesday, October 19, 2:15 pm–3:45 pm