The Helene Cixous Reader

The Helene Cixous Reader

The Helene Cixous Reader

The Helene Cixous Reader


This is the first truly representative collection of texts by Helene Cixous. The substantial pieces range broadly across her entire oeuvre, and include essays, works of fiction, lectures and drama. Arranged helpfully in chronological order, the extracts span twenty years of intellectual thought and demonstrate clearly the development of one of the most creative and brilliant minds of the twentieth century. With a foreword by Jacques Derrida, a preface by Cixous herself, and first-class editorial material by Susan Sellers, The Helene Cixous Reader is destined to become a key text of feminist writing.


Like all those whose vital substance is cut from the same fabric as writing, I am constantly impelled to ask myself the questions engendered by this structure which is at once single and double: questions of the ethical, politico-cultural, aesthetic, destinal value of this constitution; questions of the necessity of writing for myself and for others; of the usefulness, the strangeness of forever being here and elsewhere, ever here as elsewhere, elsewhere as here, I and the other, I as other, etc.… Stretching out existence, enlivening it, troubling it, surprising it. Questions cross my horizon like herds of wild geese, “omens” according to Stephen Dedalus, but of what?

I am thus of the species of travelers—(of where I am, the interior or the earth), of the Wanderschaft Hölderlin or Trakl spoke of as did Aeschylus or Homer…

Having never been without writing, having writing in my body, at my throat, on my lips (is it an illness, a supplement, a second blood?) to me my texts are elements of a whole which interweaves my own story, are the seasons, days in the Great Year of my life; our time is made up of a succession of simultaneously single and collective often brutal experiences, thus my life’s path will have crossed through exile+a world war+a second exile—change of country+colonial—decolonial wars+children brought into the world or lost+joys+bereavements+joys acute as bereavements…

Sometimes we live the wars between nations as personal events. Sometimes a private drama appears like a war or natural catastrophe. Sometimes the two wars, the personal and the national, coincide. Sometimes there is peace on one side (in one’s heart) and war on the other. I and the world are never separate. the one is the double or the metaphor of the other. I doubtless owe this I of two scenes to my genealogy. I was born at/from the intersection of migrations and memories from the Occident and Orient, from the North and South. I was born a foreigner in “France” in a said-to-be “French” Algeria. I was born in not-France calling itself “France.” To tell the truth we have to trap the appearances with quotation marks. We are not what we are said to be. At the age of three I knew that we are destined to be the orphans of Paradise. We remember

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