Insook Webber
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Dreams, repetition and the real in Marie NDiaye’s Ladivine
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Marie NDiaye’s oeuvre is known for, among others, its ‘strangeness’ attributed to narrative holes and the blurred frontiers between reality and the dream. Ladivine (2013) – whose (post)colonial motif and the trauma associated with it is perhaps the most explicitly treated to date by the author famous for being evasive about the race of her protagonists – is no exception. In this article, I examine two distinct dimensions which in effect merge and entwin in the novel: the enduring, and transgenerational (as depicted in Ladivine in particular), trauma of (post)colonialism and its oneiric or phantasmatic manifestations since its extreme nature escapes not only a realistic narration but the conscious. I analyse this aspect of the novel in light of Fanon’s psychoanalytical theories of the ‘lived’ black experience as well as theories by Freud and Lacan. Rejecting his earlier assertion of the dream as wishful or driven by the pleasure principle, Freud proposes the repetition compulsion to explain traumatic dreams and equates repetition with the death drive. Lacan reframes the Freudian death drive as the real, part of the trilogy of the imaginary–the symbolic–the real, by positing that the real of trauma is that which resists symbolization, that is, the impossible to say or name. The writing style of Ladivine exemplifies, I argue, such impossibility, which lends the novel an aura of strangeness, filled with narrative jumps and gaps.

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Dreams and atrocity

The oneiric in representations of trauma


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