1st Edition

Jean Rhys Writing Precariously

    Jean Rhys' position upon the literary map of the 20th century remains unstable, even after Wide Sargasso Sea (1966). She shunned public exposure and yet, desperately sought acknowledgement by her own peers; she stood away from the modernist circles of Montparnasse, in Paris, and yet, explored a radically avant-garde writing which retrospectively makes her rank among them, while her always problematic authority places her in the marginalized position of the postcolonial author.

    'Writing precariously', in the case of Jean Rhys, reaches far beyond a mere posture of submission or a necessity to cope with a lack of money or a 'room of one’s own'. Rather, it becomes an ethical and political stance that engages with forms of minimal resistance to forms of subjection just as the very precariousness of her writing thwarts any efforts to 'place' her or her work, to frame her characters or label her style. With Jean Rhys, precariousness is the site where voices silenced and bodies dismissed by a gendered or imperialistic power may be retrieved, until their vulnerability becomes a dislodging force that makes the power structures precarious in turn.

    This book reassesses the precariousness of Jean Rhys as a distinct positionality eliciting an isolated voice which insists and persists. It was originally published as a special issue of the journal, Women: A Cultural Review.

    Introduction—Jean Rhys: Writing Precariously

    Juliana Lopoukhine, Frédéric Regard and Kerry-Jane Wallart

    1. Inaudible Voices in Sleep It Off Lady

    Sylvie Maurel

    2. Post-scripted Transmissions in Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark

    Lindsey Pelucacci

    3. The Voices of Others: Intertextuality and Authorial Presences in Jean Rhys’s Short Fiction

    Elsa Lorphelin

    4. Writing Jean Rhys a Life: The Circumvolutions of Transmission Lines in the Memoirs and Biographies of Jean Rhys

    Floriane Reviron-Piégay

    5. Jean Rhys’s Phantom Manuscript: ‘December 4th., 1938. Mr. Howard’s House. CREOLE.’

    Catherine Rovera

    6. Farewell, Socialist Gwen: Poverty and the Politics of Injury in Jean Rhys’s Interwar Fiction

    Andrea Zemgulys

    7. ‘Outside the Machine’: Stasis and Conflict in the work of Jean Rhys

    Imogen Free

    8. Painting the Cardboard House Red: Rewriting Colour in Wide Sargasso Sea

    Pascale Tollance


    Juliana Lopoukhine is Senior Lecturer in English at the Sorbonne in Paris. Her research interests focus mainly on modernist women writers such as Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys and Rose Macaulay. She is co-editor of a collective volume entitled Transnational Jean Rhys: Lines of Transmission, Lines of Flight (2020).

    Frédéric Regard is Professor of British Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. He wrote his Doctorat d’Etat under the supervision of Hélène Cixous and has been interested in gender issues ever since. His other research interests focus on the English novel in the 19th - 21st centuries. His publications include books on William Golding, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Josephine Butler, and he also edited collections of essays on life-writing and exploration narratives.

    Kerry-Jane Wallart is Professor in American and Postcolonial Literatures in English at the University of Orleans, France. Her research interests focus on generic hybridity and transcultural connections. She has co-edited a journal issue on Nadine Gordimer (Commonwealth Essays & Studies, 2019) and a volume on Jamaica Kincaid (Wagadu, 2019).