The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

November 3, 2013

November 3, 1793

Olympe de Gouges (May 7, 1748 to November 3, 1793) was the name Marie Gouze adopted. She was an early spokesman for the rights of women as well as all other oppressed groups. Such as illegitimate children. She believed her father was not the husband of her mother but a minor noble whose title was Marquis. This person was a "paltry versifier" according to the biographical account written by Elisabeth Roudinesco. As de Gouges gained some fame in the literary circles of Paris, the rumor that she was the illegitimate daughter of the king, was one she denied. Again quoting Elisabeth Roudinesco, de Gouges said: "I am not the daughter of a king, but rather of a head crowned with laurels." That head refused to acknowledge her and in her arguments for the rights of women, she included provisions for men to financially take care of children they fathered, regardless of marital status. But Olympe de Gouges wrote about the plight of the negro slave, as well as women, and at first hailed the French Revolution as an opportunity to actualize political liberty. Even when the slaughter of the Terror continued, and no one even wrote about the rights of women, she persisted in her arguments, and wound up executed. 

Roudinesco says of de Gouges: "Her love for animals was such that she lived with a veritable menagerie, which consisted of dogs, cats, and monkeys." Being a follower of the Enlightenment she fetishized science and was enthusiastic about zoology, a form of inquiry which fueled her passion for animals. She therefore spurned an orthodox assessment of the sensibility of animals, for she was a firm believer in the doctrine of reincarnation."

Roudinesco is the author of Madness and Revolution: The Lives and Legends of Theroigne de Mericourt (1991), the source of our information. She also wrote Jacques Lacan & Co.: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985.  At the time of the book we reference was published she had a position at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. I was going to say she writes worse than I do, but my source is a translation, (by Martin Thom) so I can't confidently say that.

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