Marriage, Métissage, and Women's Citizenship Revisiting Race and Gender in Claire de Duras's Ourika Adeline Koh "Qui voudra jamais épouser une nègresse?"1 Many critics consider Claire de Duras's 1823 novel Ourika to be one of the most penetrating portrayals of racism of its time. In the brief novel, a young black Senegalese girl is saved at a young age from a life of slavery and raised by a white woman in an aristocratic French milieu as an adoptive daughter. Petted and praised by members of her benefactress's salon until she comes of age, she remains blissfully unaware of any form of racial prejudice. That is, until she realizes that she will never be able to marry a white Frenchman because she is black. She then descends into a depressive spiral from which she never completely recovers. Literary scholars often praise Ourika for its sensitive insight into the psychological plight of its young protagonist, frequently comparing her to the alienated narrator in Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks.2 At the same time, critics celebrate Duras for her insight into the black condition. Alison Finch has praised Duras as being "humanely free of racism" and declared that "no other French
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Apr 17, 2013
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