This article examines the controversy surrounding novelist Marcelle Tinayre’s nomination to the French Legion of Honor in January 1908 as an important window onto the active interrogation of public female roles in the belle epoque press. When she learned of her nomination, Tinayre, best-selling author of several critically acclaimed novels and darling of the women’s press, offered her reaction to several French dailies. The controversy over her remarks, deemed overly coquettish and insulting to French patrimony, led to nearly one hundred articles and the ultimate suppression of Tinayre’s nomination. By examining Tinayre’s ill-fated efforts to reconcile a conventionally feminine image with the traditionally masculine public sphere, this article brings to light new challenges that accompanied belle epoque women’s increased professional success and visibility. The Tinayre affair also exposes sharp differences between ideas about women’s public roles promoted by women’s magazines and those endorsed by publications meant for a more general audience.

Cet article examine la controverse qui a entouré, en janvier 1908, la promotion de la romancière Marcelle Tinayre au rang de chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Apprenant sa nomination, Tinayre, auteur de plusieurs romans salués par la critique et elle-même enfant chérie de la presse féminine, fait part immédiatement de ses impressions à plusieurs quotidiens français. A la suite de ces remarques, considérées comme faussement modestes et insultantes pour le patrimoine français, plus d’une centaine d’articles paraissent dans la presse et la promotion de Tinayre est finalement annulée. En analysant la tentative maladroite de Tinayre pour concilier sa féminité de convention et un espace public traditionnellement masculin, cet article met en lumière les nouveaux défis auxquels, en raison de ses récents succès professionnels et de sa nouvelle visibilité, la femme de la Belle Epoque doit faire face.

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