Writing Wounds: The Inscription of Trauma in Post-1968 French Women's Life-Writing

Writing Wounds: The Inscription of Trauma in Post-1968 French Women's Life-Writing

Writing Wounds: The Inscription of Trauma in Post-1968 French Women's Life-Writing

Writing Wounds: The Inscription of Trauma in Post-1968 French Women's Life-Writing

Synopsis

"Wounds rethinks the relation between trauma memory and narrative through readings of key fictional, autobiographical and "autofictional" texts by recent French women writers." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Trauma seems to be much more than a pathology, or the simple illness of a
wounded psyche: it is always the story of a wound that cries out, that addresses
us in the attempt to tell us of a reality or truth that is not otherwise available.
This truth, in its delayed appearance and its belated address, cannot be linked
only to what is known, but also to what remains unknown in our very actions
and our language. (Caruth 1996, 4)

The Oxford English Dictionary gives a double definition of trauma: “a wound or external bodily injury” and a “psychic injury, esp. one caused by emotional shock the memory of which is repressed and remains unhealed”. Traumatic experience is too overwhelming to be registered fully in consciousness as it occurs and is thus unavailable to conscious recall. Yet trauma cannot simply be consigned to the past: it is relived endlessly in the present through repeated painful reenactments, nightmares, hallucinations and flashbacks. The past intrudes insistently on the present, demanding, yet resisting, articulation, wreaking devastating effects on the survivor’s memory and identity. According to most discourses on trauma in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, it is only when the seemingly unspeakable traumatic experience can be transformed into a narrative that the traumatic event can be put in the past and the survivor can begin to recreate an identity shattered by trauma. To quote Bessel A.

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