Cixous cuts
Lewis Carroll
in Hélène Cixous
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‘Cixous cuts’ are also about the desire for ‘no cut’, for the sort of seamless, cut-resistant writing that Cixous admires in Clarice Lispector. Such seamlessness is also an element of dreams. This chapter explores further the notion of ‘writing by dream’. While Joyce might seem the obvious precursor in this context, here it is argued that the writer with whom Cixous has most in common as one who ‘writes by dream’ is Lewis Carroll. This chapter seeks to elaborate on the affinities between Carroll and Cixous developed in the preceding chapter (‘Portmanteau’), through a detailed reading and analysis of the figure of the ‘cut’ in the Alice books. Cuts are everywhere in Carroll’s work, but even in the most mortifying example (decapitation) they are always strangely innocuous. This chapter argues that Carroll’s books do something new in the history of English fiction with the figure of the ‘cut’, above all through the logic whereby (in Cixous’s words) ‘effects precede their causes: first the piece of cake is eaten, then it is cut’. The Alice books emerge as key texts for understanding Cixous’s double concern with trauma and with narrative composition as (in the White Queen’s uncanny phrase) ‘living backwards’.

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