New French Feminisms: An Anthology

By Elaine Marks; Isabelle De Courtivron | Go to book overview

Hélène Cixous

I shall speak about women's writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies -- for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put herself into the text -- as into the world and into history -- by her own movement.

The future must no longer be determined by the past. I do not deny that the effects of the past are still with us. But I refuse to strengthen them by repeating them, to confer upon them an irremovability the equivalent of destiny, to confuse the biological and the cultural. Anticipation is imperative.

Since these reflections are taking shape in an area just on the point of being discovered, they necessarily bear the mark of our time -- a time during which the new breaks away from the old, and, more precisely, the (feminine) new from the old (la nouvelle de l'ancien). Thus, as there are no grounds for establishing a discourse, but rather an arid millennial ground to break, what I say has at least two sides and two aims: to break up, to destroy; and to foresee the unforeseeable, to project.

I write this as a woman, toward women. When I say "woman," I'm speaking of woman in her inevitable struggle against conventional man; and of a universal woman subject who must bring women to their senses and to their meaning in history. But first it must be said that in spite of the enormity of the repression that has kept them in the "dark" -- that dark which people have been trying to make them accept as their attribute -- there is, at this time, no general woman, no one typical woman. What they have in common I will say. But what strikes me is the infi-

"The Laugh of the Medusa" in Signs, Summer 1976. This is a revised version of "Le rire de la méduse", which appeared in L'arc ( 1975), pp. 39-54.

-245-

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New French Feminisms: An Anthology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Why This Book? ix
  • Introductions 1
  • Annie Leclerc 79
  • Claudine Herrmann 87
  • Hélène Cixous 90
  • Luce Irigaray 99
  • Warnings 115
  • Antoinette Fouque 117
  • Denise Le Dantec 119
  • Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi 120
  • Arlette Laguiller 121
  • Madeleine Vincent 125
  • Catherine Clément 130
  • Julia Kristeva 137
  • Simone De Beauvoir 142
  • Creations 159
  • Xavière Gauthier 161
  • Julia Kristeva 165
  • Claudine Herrmann 168
  • Marguerite Duras 174
  • Chantal Chawaf 177
  • Madeleine Gagnon 179
  • Viviane Forrester 181
  • Christiane Rochefort 183
  • Research on Women 211
  • Variations on Common Themes 212
  • Utopias 231
  • Simone De Beauvoir 233
  • Françoise Parturier 234
  • Françoise D'Eaubonne 236
  • Annie Leclerc 237
  • Marguerite Duras 238
  • Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi 239
  • Julia Kristeva 240
  • Julia Kristeva 241
  • Monique Wittig 242
  • Suzanne Horer Jeanne Socquet 243
  • Hélène Cixous 245
  • Index 271
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