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

By Emma Wilson | Go to book overview

3
Reading Albertine's Sexuality; or, 'Why not Think of Marcel Simply as a Lesbian?'

Can sexuality even remain sexuality once it submits to a criterion of transparency and disclosure?

( Judith Butler, 'Imitation and Gender Insubordination)

Gomorrhe est infiniment plus troublante, noire, détournée, que Sodome.1

( Philippe Sollers, 'Proust et Gomorrhe')


• Reading Albertine

I began the previous chapter by alluding at some length to the model of reading differently offered by Proust in Le Temps retrouvé. In the chapter that follows I will question how far Proust may be seen to engage his own reader in a reading practice which becomes necessarily a performance of destabilized desire. If, in dramatizing the narrator's deluded quest for knowledge of Albertine, Proust may be seen both to form and reflect the experience of his external reader, what effect may this be said to have on our own construction of desire? What, indeed, are the effects of the proximity posited by Proust between reading and desire? And what is the possible effect of a desiring reader on the text?

In a recent study of sexuality in Proust A la recherche du temps perdu, Kaja Silverman asks the leading question: 'Why not think of Marcel simply as a lesbian?'2 This seems effectively

____________________
1
'Gomorrah is infinitely more disturbing, dark, and twisted than Sodom.'
2
Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margins ( New York, 1992), 386.

-60-

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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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