CELINE: Remembering Louisiana, 1850-1871 by Celine Fremaux Garcia

CELINE: Remembering Louisiana, 1850-1871

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A revealing memoir of a Southern girlhood, written at the turn of the century and unpublished until now. The publication of this memoir reflects the growing interest among scholars to extend the subjects of historical inquiry beyond the public, and primarily masculine, realms of politics and economics into the more private areas of culture and family life (e.g., Philippe Aries' and Georges Duby's massive, five-volume A History of Private Life). Celine, a middle-aged woman looking back on the 1850's and 1860's, provides little information about the battles of the Civil War or the economics of Reconstruction. She does, however, offer excruciatingly vivid and admirably unself-pitying recollections of a child's experience of the carnage and cruelty of war. Celine is a conventional Southern woman, and she offers insight into the life and attitudes of ordinary, middle-class Southerners--making no apology for slavery or for the cruelty of the confederates to black union soldiers. Unusual, however, is her frankness about her tortured relationship with her mother, a French immigrant who struggled vigorously to raise her children by old-world standards in the new, rough world. From the age of three, Celine's life consisted of a cycle of lessons and beatings from which her loving but passive father failed to rescue her. She writes of the struggle between mother and daughter with controlled anger and great psychological perception; and as the Civil War progresses, Celine gradually slips out of her mother's old French world and becomes more of an American. A fascinating and intimate account of both the struggle of an older immigrant generation to hold on to tradition and of the psychological conflicts between mothers and daughters.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia Press