Telling Tales: The Hysteric's Seduction in Fiction and Theory

By Katherine Cummings | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Rereading Bleak House: The Chronicle of a "Little Body" and Its Perverse Defense

This signifier of little, this discourse that doesn't amount to much, is like all ghosts: errant. . . . Like someone who has lost [her] way, . . . having strayed from the correct path, the right direction, the rule of rectitude, the norm; but also like someone who has lost [her] rights, an outlaw, a pervert, a bad seed, a vagrant . . . wandering in the streets, [she] doesn't even know who [she] is, what [her] identity--if [she] has one--might be, what his name is, what [her] father's name is.

Derrida, "Plato's Pharmacy"

Listen to a woman speak at a public gathering (if she hasn't painfully lost her wind). She doesn't "speak," she throws her trembling body forward; she lets go of herself . . . She physically materializes what she--s thinking with her body. Hélène Cixous,
"The Laugh of the Medusa"

Isn't laughter the first form of liberation from a secular oppression? Isn't the phallic tantamount to the seriousness of meaning? Perhaps woman, and the sexual relation, transcend it "first" in laughter?

Luce Irigaray, "Questions"


Copies and Copyists

Bleak House is evidently another story, yet something of it is the same. Once again, the action "is all about fathers and sons, about bastards . . . , about inheritance, sperm, sterility. Nothing [much]

-191-

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Telling Tales: The Hysteric's Seduction in Fiction and Theory
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • A Note to the Reader xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One Seduction and Psychoanalysis 19
  • Epilogue 65
  • Interlude: "Between the Acts" 67
  • Chapter Two Clarissa's "Life with Father" 90
  • Interlude: A Spurious Set (Up) 157
  • Chapter Three Rereading Bleak House: the Chronicle Of A "Little Body" and Its Perverse Defense 191
  • Chapter Four Translation, Transference, and Other "Tender in the Night" 230
  • Epilogue 279
  • Reference Matter 281
  • Works Cited 283
  • Index 293
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