I suffer, therefore I am: engaging with empathy in contemporary French women’s writing

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


Taking her inspiration from Darrieussecq’s battle over the rights to write about suffering that she had not herself experienced, Robson explores the limits of representation through fiction, framing her own analyses with the question ‘what is at stake in reading narratives of other people’s pain?’ (2019: 1). The text takes on a range of manifestations of suffering, including eating disorders, child loss, and infanticide, through a lens of the concept of empathy. Robson’s initial exposition of ideas around the theoretical underpinnings of her work is nuanced and insightful, and sets up her interrogation of readerly engagement and implication for the chapters to come. The text, though relatively short, is beautifully balanced, distributing attention to themes and texts meticulously evenly throughout. The work traces the limits of truth and fiction throughout the texts analysed, in order to ‘explore not only how narratives of suffering seek to position the reader, but if and how the reader can resist or disrupt this positioning’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages2
JournalModern and Contemporary France
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 May 2022


  • Sociology and Political Science
  • History
  • Cultural Studies


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