Personal Effects
Reading the Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff

Sonia Wilson

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Marie Bashkirtseff
Ukrainian/French diarist

Gender and sexuality
 31 other titles

Research Monographs in French Studies 27

Legenda: Oxford, 2010
£55.00 ($99.00 US)  Hardback  170pp
ISBN: 978-1-906540-13-5

Five months before her death of tuberculosis in 1884, Marie Bashkirtseff, an aspiring artist and a would-be mondaine, composed a preface to her personal diary. In it, she brazenly declared that in the event of her early death her diary was to be published. Three years later, a truncated version of the diary appeared. Translated into English, championed by Barrès and Gladstone, taken up by young diarists from France to the US, the diary created a major sensation, remaining standard reading for young women in both the anglophone and francophone worlds until the 1930s.

The first full-length study to explore the questions that reading Bashkirtseff’s journal raises with respect to both genre and gender construction, Personal Effects examines the genre and gender issues at stake in Bashkirtseff’s bid to go public with the personal, and explores the discursive strategies by which Bashkirtseff writes her journal from the private context of its keeping to a public context of reading. Wilson reads the diary as a performance of writing, one in which a display of the personal mediates between the subjective and the social, the private and the public.

Sonia Wilson is Lecturer in French at the University of Sydney.


  • ‘Wilson’s account is fascinating and throws light upon feminist controversy in late nineteenth-century England and the European continent.’ — unsigned review, Years Work in English Studies 91, 2012, 724


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