THE GREAT BOOK
Translated from French
by Christine M. Reno (Vassar College, USA)
and Thérèse Moreau
Thérèse Moreau's collection of feminist tales, Le Grand Livre des recettes secrètes, was originally published in French in Switzerland in 1997 by Editions Metropolis. The volume received critical acclaim, and in 1998 was one of five books selected by the public libraries of Geneva for the Prix des Meilleurs Livres de l'Année.
The Great Book of Secret Recipes is literary in style and witty in tone. This collection of stories is organized into a ''menu of the day.'' The opening piece, a tongue-in-cheek preface by ''Aunt Marie,'' sets the tone for the tales that follow; and the postface, a high-flying exercise in semiology, dispels any possible lingering doubts about the designs of the philosopher-author.
Thérèse Moreau has the reputation of being a militant feminist. To ordinary mortals, feminists appear as disembodied intellectuals who promote unwelcome subversive ideas that take them away from their traditional roles of wife and mother. What a perverse idea, then, to take pleasure in cooking! This surprising book demonstrates precisely the contrary, and treats the reader to a dozen succulent recipes: asparagus with cream, St. Thomas chicken with exotic fruits, Marie-Josèphe's religieuses, Christine de Pizan cheese cake, New World barbecue. Moreau clearly loves cooking, and her recipes have a distinct and often subtle flavor.
Texts carry us away into a maelstrom of names, twists of plots, bucolic descriptions, erudite allusions, profound remarks and inventions either poetic or whimsical whose meaning is sometimes elusive, but which transport us by their quick pace, originality, and gaiety. Thérèse Moreau has introduced a new style of writing into French Swiss letters.
Christine M. Reno received a Ph.D. in Romance Languages from Yale University. She is currently Full Professor of French in the French Department of Vassar College, New York (USA). A specialist in late medieval French literature and medieval French manuscripts, she recently co-edited, with Liliane Dulac of the Université Paul-Valéry in Montpellier, Christine de Pizan's Livre de l'Advision Cristine (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2001), and is working with an international team of scholars on a study of all the manuscripts of Christine de Pizan's works copied under the author's supervision.
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