Patricia Reznikova invents a poetic-political novel about women’s freedom.

13:00, March 16, 2022

The militancy of today’s feminists too often leads to the fact that they drown out the sensitive spring of their obligations, emotions, leaving only anger, even hatred for men. In Alice in the Land of Women, French-American Patricia Reznikova does the opposite; she conveys without vindictiveness the state of mind, heart and ministry of a girl who is learning to be a woman, having this indisputable experience: it is more difficult to be a free and fearless woman than to be a free and fearless man. It all starts when 10-year-old Alicia rides alone on the subway for the first time and sees a man watching her caressing his penis. “She knows that something terrible just happened, that someone tried to take a piece from her, but she could not say how. This time, Little Red Riding Hood came out alive from the forest, the writer writes. She knows this immemorial story hidden in a deep and dark area of ​​her being. But in another part of herself, the one that operates in broad daylight, the understanding of what happened does not reach her brain. »

In the next chapter, Alicia gave way to Alice, the unforgettable heroine of Lewis Carroll. Then, on a world tour with Alicia’s real life, a re-reading – feminine and feminine – of Alice in Wonderland takes shape. Alicia’s real life corresponds to the metaphorical life of her poetic counterpart Alice. In this dream life, worm ladies, rabbits and rabbits, cats, hares, caterpillars, toads, dormouse, flowers, butterflies beat Alice with more or less gentle instructions, bringing her back to this life. biology that makes it live like potential prey.

Reznikov stays away from victimization, moral lessons and hatred of men

Then turn the page, add ” It has and we find Alicia at age 12, with her braids in her hair, being assessed by workers on the streets as she walks to college at 7:55 in the morning. “They accompanied their gaze with enlightening gestures, sometimes even tossing her a phrase in an idiomatic language unknown to her, full of envy and reproaches, the meaning of which, quite mysteriously, she perfectly understood. » Then Alice returns, wandering from one delightfully absurd encounter to another (like this egg which, to thwart grammar – which insists that the masculine always predominates – puts all nouns in the feminine gender), from one lesson to the next.

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The charm of the book lies in revealing both sides of the mirror. To dizziness. Alice is the inner mythology of Alicia, who, as a child, “I read the works of Lewis Carroll and saw myself as Alice”. Very quickly, the thread stretched between the two narratives creates a kind of continuum, eventually merging. Instead of publishing a manifest called From the difficulty of being a woman in 10 lessons and what we would never have discovered is that Patricia Reznikov stands a good distance—that is, far—from victimization, moral lessons, and male disgust.

We will have to seduce, agree to take advantage of this maddening privilege, but not be consumed

We hear his desire for Alicia “to have the freedom of men, their supernatural power to go where they want, before the most insane adventures, in complete safety”. As a young girl, she would prefer “Chat with the boys. She will find that the spirit blows more from that side. It probably wasn’t very feminist, but that’s how it was.”.

In the same way, Patricia Reznikov invents a strange and insightful genre: a novel of poetic-political dedication about the freedom of a woman. Where she sets this impossible course.“We will have to seduce, agree to take advantage of this maddening privilege, but still try not to go astray, keep control of the ghosts so as not to be consumed. » The writer could not have distinguished herself better from the neo-feminists – this expression“maddening privilege”even by nature to make them jump…

It is a pity that she did not raise the issue that determines the transformation of a girl into a woman, the discovery of physical love. One can also regret that the male characters (Alicia’s lovers) are practically erased. As if sir had to be underestimated for madam to exist. In dream life, a woman is strong enough to take her place next to a strong man.

Alice in the land of womenPatricia Reznikova, Flammarion, 272 pages, 21 euros.

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