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Through the Filter of Ageing: Elsa Triolet, Mariama Bà and Maryse Condé

Barnes, Linda (2006) Through the Filter of Ageing: Elsa Triolet, Mariama Bà and Maryse Condé. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94195) (KAR id:94195)

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This thesis explores the portrayal of literary images of ageing women through selected works by Mariama Bâ. Maryse Condé and Elsa Triolet. It looks at different generations, nationalities, races and cultures, yet, through the common medium of French, whilst their approaches may differ, all three writers ultimately display a perhaps surprising consensus with regard to the various travails that beset women d’un certain âge. In particular, and reading through the concept of liminality, I demonstrate that these authors uphold the view that, consciously or sub-consciously, women in their midlife years do undergo a rite of passage, with the changes in a woman’s body being mirrored by changes in her identity: life is, at least for these authors’ female characters, different after the menopause.

Reading these novels through the filter of ageing, I explore how Elsa Triolet uses her characters to articulate, on a micro-level, her own fear and distress at the signs of deterioration of the physical body, whilst on a macro-level, and writing through a particularly turbulent period of history, her personal angst becomes a fear for the future of mankind. In contrast, both Mariama Bâ and Maryse Condé focus on the reconstruction of identity that is forced upon their characters as a result of their midlife crises, with lire resultant freedom from domination being expressed on various levels by both authors through their discourses on culture and identity.

At the start of the twenty-first century, with growing awareness of our increased longevity and all its consequences, ageing is a topical subject. Given that youth and beauty are seen as tire holy grails of modem society, ageing women can easily feel marginalised, yet I argue that these authors demonstrate how one can take on the challenge of building a new relationship with one’s changing body and successfully negotiate the passage of time.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: de Medeiros, Ana
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94195
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance Literature > PQ1 French Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2022 11:54 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 15:08 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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