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OURIKA by Clare de Duras, translated...

OURIKA by Clare de Duras, translated from the French by John Fowles (Modern Language Assn. of America: $5.95; 47 pp.). Clare de Duras’ novella about an intelligent, articulate African woman, taken to France as an infant and raised by a countess, caused a sensation when it appeared in 1823. Ourika’s cultivated life is shattered when she discovers that skin color abrogates the Enlightenment philosophers’ statements about human equality. Barred from the life she knows, Ourika mourns the judgment of “this merciless society that declared me guilty of a crime it alone had committed.” Fowles calls this compelling story “the first serious attempt by a white novelist to enter a black mind,” and tells how it influenced “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.”


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