Body [in] Parts: Bodies and Identity in Sade and Guibert

Body [in] Parts: Bodies and Identity in Sade and Guibert

Body [in] Parts: Bodies and Identity in Sade and Guibert

Body [in] Parts: Bodies and Identity in Sade and Guibert

Synopsis

Explores the link between Herve Guibert, one of France's most provocative contemporary writers who died of AIDS in 1991, and the Marquis de Sade, the most notorious Enlightenment libertine.

Excerpt

Creating identity means coming to an understanding of, coming to terms with, the body, its materiality, spatial dimensions, sexuality, and physical limitations. It also means, for Charles Taylor and others, finding sources of the self in a moral dimension. But first, identity resides in a sense of corporeality. As Butler suggests, the body first establishes itself as a material entity with a presence. With that materiality comes an understanding of the psychic, social, cultural, and other factors that allow the body to inhabit the physical space it occupies. in many ways, identity forms when materiality comes to terms with its surroundings. the body becomes more than a corps; it creates a corpus of understanding when it becomes contextualized. Having an identity means also acknowledging a biography, establishing a historical narrative of where the body has been. That is not to suggest that biography and identity are one and the same. As a genre, biography is of course fraught with elements that limit its truth value: authorial presence, theoretical frameworks, selection of narrative sequences and so forth. What I mean here is that a material body has a lived history that becomes its biography, the narrative of its materiality. At times, just as is the case with the literary biographical genre, the narrative is shaped less by actual occurrences than by narrative strategy. in this chapter, I retrace both Sade and Guibert’s biographies to uncover how they developed as writers. I then look at some ways in which their writings, often about themselves, both revealed and concealed their identities.

In his biography of Sade, Lawrence Bongie established that biography and writing feed off each other; the scandal created by one is amplified by the other. That is why he speaks of biography as an irresistible force, a term alluded to in the chapter title here. Biography in some ways cannot be concealed—it can get away . . .

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