Gothic Bodies and Bestial Appetites in Marie Darrieussecq's Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation

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Marie Darrieussecq’s Truismes (1996), translated into English as Pig Tales (1997), tells the story of a woman-to-pig metamorphosis. Against the backdrop of a dystopian France in which entrenched inequality, unchecked multinational capitalism and corrupt political systems have led to a breakdown of social morality and environmental stability, the narrator’s body fluctuates between human and porcine forms. This paper will explore how this novel uses transmogrification to depict a dark vision of patriarchal consumer culture at its most extreme. Violent male sexual desires are the norm against which ‘other’ bodies – female, black, and animal – are disposable objects. Darrieussecq draws comparisons between consumerism and bestial, monstrous appetites; from the cosmetic products the narrator sells her body to obtain, to the worm-infested flesh of dead psychiatrists that she later happily devours while in pig form. Menstruation, pregnancy and birth are pivotal to the transformation, evoking age-old constructions of the female body as an unstable site of horror with inherent animality. The hybrid stages of the narrator’s metamorphosis are described in grotesque and disturbing Gothic terms, yet as a fully transformed pig she finds liberation and happiness. Her transformation is ultimately what makes a rejection of established political and moral power dynamics possible.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - May 2016
EventLiterature's Animals - University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 May 201618 May 2016


ConferenceLiterature's Animals
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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