Sexing the Mind: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Hysteria

Sexing the Mind: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Hysteria

Sexing the Mind: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Hysteria

Sexing the Mind: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of Hysteria

Synopsis

"The originality of Ender's approach and her insightful readings of literary and psychoanalytic texts make this a significant contribution. She proceeds in a circular fashion, returning to look at the same works in different contexts. By the end, I was thoroughly won over, entranced."--Martha Noel Evans, author of Fits and Starts: A Genealogy of Hysteria in Modern France

In a book both brilliant and lucid, Evelyne Ender explores the issue of sexual identity in the fiction, criticism, and psychoanalytic writings of the nineteenth century. She focuses on the figure of the hysteric, which, she says, came to represent a mind haunted by the questioning of gender.

Excerpt

Un livre est un ami, wroteMichel de Montaigne a long time ago. In my experience, this still seems true: over these few years this book has acquired something like a friendly presence and substance. It has also demanded the care, the consideration, the love that we associate with friendship. It has kept me company, moreover, not because mine is a lonely life, but because so many voices and ideas that were shared with friends or colleagues have been woven into it. "How is your book?" they would ask, as if inquiring about a person's state of health or mind. "Where are you with your book?" my daughter, to whom this is dedicated, would say. This book is also a friend because woven into its texture is the babbling and later the chattering voice of my son, Vahé, who grew up with it.

But it also has this special meaning and presence in my life because, as a book about literature and about my encounters with writing and reading minds (Sand, Eliot, Woolf, Flaubert, James, and Freud as well as some significant contemporary critical voices), it has achieved a unique feat that only the bond of reading can effect for us: "it has freed me from many things, in particular from the solitude in which every reading woman finds herself when she tries to comprehend in some measure what is happening to her." This last sentence and the notion of the "bond of reading" are not of my own invention: these are the words of Michèle Le Doeuff, in Hipparchia's Choice, and of Shoshana Felman , in What Does a Woman Want? It seems right that I should first . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.