We are delighted to announce that Siân Reynolds (Professor Emerita of French at Stirling) has been awarded the prestigious Gapper Book Prize for 2013 by the Society for French Studies for Marriage and Revolution: Monsieur & Madame Roland (Oxford University Press).
Here’s what the prize jury had to say about the book:
“Covering just a decade or so at the end of the 18th century, this book’s range is immensely broad: a social history of marriage and of marriage practices, a biography of two individuals and of a marriage—one of the most original aspects of the book—and a complex history of the first several phases of the revolution and these activists’ engagement with its treacherous political and intellectual terrain. Attempting to fit two personal biographies into a political and historical puzzle and to flesh out two individuals who are known to have played an important part in the revolution, leading to the Terror, is already impressive. What Reynolds does further is to mesh the personal entirely with the political, without sacrificing subtlety, and the psychological with the social. This is feminist scholarship at its most current and at its very best. While M Roland receives serious attention, Mme Roland is in many senses the star of the book—largely because there is more material on her—but the refusal to see her only as a woman, only as a wife, only as a mother, only as a political innovator and rabble-rouser, only as a prolific writer, is gratifying. As one partial identity piles upon the next, this insistence on the fully rounded portrait pays dividends; and though the argument is modest (i.e. no claims for being the definitive account), it is extremely persuasive (while acknowledging throughout the evasiveness of history and the unreliability and subjective interpretation of historical documents).
Never intrusive or showy, the rhetoric supports the argument rather than the contrary. Its impact on the fields of 18th-century thought & literature, the Revolution, the history of women writers, and biography/autobiography studies will be immense. The Rolands emerge from this tragic tale as a couple of dreamers—slightly inflexible, a bit taken with themselves and their public image, endlessly interested in the effects that their writing might one day have on the public. Most importantly, the reader must take account of Mme Roland as a major figure of, and apologist for, radical political theory. Reynolds shows her not as pushy wife or duped woman or scapegoat but as a willing and self-sacrificing player in a dangerous and deadly game. With this updated view in mind, Mme Roland’s writings take on increased importance as an example of engagé autobiographical writing and Reynolds’ work offers a brilliant example of situated, materialist biography.”
Another of our Stirling colleagues, Aédin ní Loingsigh, was commended by the 2010 Gapper Prize Jury for her book Postcolonial Eyes: Intercontinental Travel in Francophone African Literature.
Both books are available in all good bookshops…