New French Feminisms: An Anthology

By Elaine Marks; Isabelle De Courtivron | Go to book overview

Chantal Chawaf

Isn't the final goal of writing to articulate the body? For me the sensual juxtaposition of words has one function: to liberate a living paste, to liberate matter. Language through writing has moved away from its original sources: the body and the earth. Too often GOD was written instead of LIFE. Classicism and rationalism have mutilated the verbal paganism of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Linguistic flesh has been puritanically repressed. Abstraction has starved language, but words must die. They have a sensorial quality. Their role is to develop consciousness and knowledge by liberating our unconscious as well as to bring back hope.

Words have the power to deny destruction and our writing must prove this. We need languages that regenerate us, warm us, give birth to us, that lead us to act and not to flee. And the imaginary must be a form of contact. The novel and its traditional narrative style summarizes, it is a yardstick for measuring distance. But when I write, on the contrary, I move in close and what I see is enormous. I magnify the word with a close-up lens. I examine it at close range: it has its own way of being granulated, ruffled, wrinkled, gnarled, iridescent, sticky. I try to respect its variations in elevation, its sheen, its seeds, and like an artisan I offer them so that they may be touched and eaten. The word must comfort the body. I cannot hurry. I will not rush the word. I want to lose no part of it. The word has its own organic life and to conserve that life is of the utmost importance. In order to reconnect the book with the body and with pleasure, we must disintellectualize writing. The corporality of language stirs up our sensuality, wakes it up, pulls it away from indifferent inertia. Theories deprive us of whirlpools sparkling and free which should carry us naturally toward our full blossoming, our rebirth. For me the most important thing is to work on orality. For women, the old material language corresponds to our historical place which is actually

"La chair linguistique" [Linguistic flesh] in Nouvelles littéraires, May 26, 1976.

-177-

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New French Feminisms: An Anthology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Why This Book? ix
  • Introductions 1
  • Annie Leclerc 79
  • Claudine Herrmann 87
  • Hélène Cixous 90
  • Luce Irigaray 99
  • Warnings 115
  • Antoinette Fouque 117
  • Denise Le Dantec 119
  • Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi 120
  • Arlette Laguiller 121
  • Madeleine Vincent 125
  • Catherine Clément 130
  • Julia Kristeva 137
  • Simone De Beauvoir 142
  • Creations 159
  • Xavière Gauthier 161
  • Julia Kristeva 165
  • Claudine Herrmann 168
  • Marguerite Duras 174
  • Chantal Chawaf 177
  • Madeleine Gagnon 179
  • Viviane Forrester 181
  • Christiane Rochefort 183
  • Research on Women 211
  • Variations on Common Themes 212
  • Utopias 231
  • Simone De Beauvoir 233
  • Françoise Parturier 234
  • Françoise D'Eaubonne 236
  • Annie Leclerc 237
  • Marguerite Duras 238
  • Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi 239
  • Julia Kristeva 240
  • Julia Kristeva 241
  • Monique Wittig 242
  • Suzanne Horer Jeanne Socquet 243
  • Hélène Cixous 245
  • Index 271
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