Sexuality and the Reading Encounter: Identity and Desire in Proust, Duras, Tournier, and Cixous

By Emma Wilson | Go to book overview

Preface

In his recent study of French autobiography, Michael Sheringham remarks: 'The reader's place in the text, realized in different ways (through an implied reader, a narratee, the orientation towards "reception", or the prominence of epistemic desire) marks the point of "application" through which the fictional world engages with and encompasses the real.'1 I allude to Sheringham's comments here since they have served aptly to concentrate my mind on the ways in which my own study has arisen out of a prolonged fascination with precisely this 'point of "application"', this intersection between the actual and the imaginary, which I will come to term here the reading encounter. The reading encounter is evidently an expression which affords various interpretations, a number of which will be my concern in the pages that follow. Before embarking on a more detailed analysis of the participants in this encounter and the spaces, real and imaginary, in which it might take place, I want to pause a moment to reveal a few motivations for the writing of this study as a whole. Indeed by way of introduction to the analyses which are the products of my own encounters with both fictional and theoretical texts, I will mention several points of 'application' which I hope will serve to show the ways in which I have seen my own work attempt at least to some degree to engage with the real.

This study was largely reworked and completed in Cambridge in the summer of 1994, at a time when Michael Howard's amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill was going through Parliament in Britain, arousing public comment and some dissension. This amendment specifies that when deciding whether to give a certificate to a video (or deciding what kind of certificate to give) the British Board of Film Classification must 'have special regard (among the other relevant factors) to any harm

____________________
1
Michael Sheringham, French Autobiograpby: Devices and Desires ( Oxford, 1993), 25.

-vii-

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Sexuality and the Reading Encounter: Identity and Desire in Proust, Duras, Tournier, and Cixous
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - The Reading Encounter 1
  • 2 - Identity and Identification 29
  • 3 - Reading Albertine's Sexuality; Or, 'Why Not Think of Marcel Simply as a Lesbian?' 60
  • 4 - 'La Passion Selon H.C.': Reading in the Feminine 95
  • 5 - 'La Chair ouverte, blessCB)e' 130
  • Concluding Remarks 192
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 209
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