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We Always Treat Women Too Well

Queneau, Raymond

New York Review Books


We Always Treat Women Too Well

Plot Summary

This satirical novel follows a group of Irish rebels led by John MacCormack as they take the Central Post Office in Dublin at the start of the 1916 Irish Easter Revolution. A clerk by the name of Gertie Girdle is in the loo as they storm the building and is subsequently trapped as the rebels lay siege. Gertie thwarts the revolutionaries and does her for King and country by systematically having sexual relations with six of the seven men, throwing their plans into disarray. The rebellion is quashed by British forces and Gertie is rescued when the post office is shelled by the naval ship commanded by her fiancé Commodore Sidney Cartwright. Only two rebels survive the siege and they are summarily executed for the charge of taking advantage of Gertie’s virtue by attempting to raise her skirts and look at her ankles.

It must be noted that We Always Treat Women Too Well extensively references James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Extratextual Content

· Introduction by John Updike

· Foreward by Valerie Caton

· Translator’s Notes by Barbara Wright

Main Characters

· Gertie Girdle

· John MacCormack

· Corny Kelleher

· Dillon

· Gallagher

· Caffrey

· Callinan

· Larry O’Rourke

Significant Minor Characters

· Commodore Sidney Cartwright

Publication History

We Always Treat Women Too Well was originally published in French as On est toujours trop bon avec les femmes under the pseudonym Sally Mara. It was first published in 1947 by Editions du Scorpion (Paris) and was considered a work of pulp fiction. It was published in English under Queneau’s own name by Editions Gallimard (Paris) in 1962 in the Complete Works of Sally Mara.

It was reissued by Gallimard in 1971 and made into a film by the French filmmaker Michel Boisrond that same year. It was published in hardcover in 1981 by New Directions Publication Company (New York), in paperback in 1981 by W. W. Norton and Company (New York), and in trade paperback in 2003 by New York Review of Books (New York). It remains in print today.

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