Abstract only
Ethical virtue in Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince (1973) and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins (1954)

This chapter will be twofold. Firstly an examination of the narrative place of incest within both Murdoch’s and de Beauvoir’s work and questioning the role of the ephebophilic attitudes of the central male characters to the younger, less experienced Julian Baffin (The Black Prince, 1973) and Nadine Dubreuilh (The Mandarins, 1954). Both of these texts are informed by philosophical idea of the virtuous and it seems clear that Murdoch takes much from de Beauvoir’s earlier novel. The structure of Murdoch’s work is far more relaxed and this is clearly seen in the style that Murdoch presents us with the sexual relations of the characters whereas de Beauvoir’s work aims to bring the reader to a better understanding of the underlying existentialist position. Is love debased by both Murdoch and de Beauvoir via the taboo of incest to heighten the eventual outcomes of the respective novels or does it form a signifying position that point us toward a new moral reality that developed after the Second World War?

Little work has been produced relating these two authors to the other and a reassessment of their work is both timely and necessary.

in Incest in contemporary literature
Creative women and daydreaming in Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels (2008)

Since its release in 2008 as a Young Adult (YA) text, Tender Morsels has been subject to widespread praise and censure. In reviews and reading groups it has been criticised by adults (including educators), as well its target audience of fourteen plus readers, for containing circumstances too challenging and traumatic for young readers; and with incestuous sexual abuse and gang rape in the first few pages it is easy to see why that has been the case. By juxtaposing the dominant psychoanalytic theories of literary criticism, with the fairytale retellings by feminist authors from the 1970s to the present time, as well as key second wave feminist texts like Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) and Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will (1975), this novel can be seen to not only challenge the prevalence of a ‘real’ feminism in our literary criticism, but also in the Western world at large.

in Incest in contemporary literature
The case of Pier Paolo Pasolini

This chapter focuses on Pasolini's film Edipe Re (1967), his love poem to his mother, and his play Affabulacione (1966). The latter is concerned with a father who turns into a jealous lover of his son. He is so possessive of his son that he ends up killing the son. A reversal of Oedipus and Sophocles' ghost is a key character in the play. Thus Affublacione or Fabrications problematizes incest as a gay reversal of the Oedipus complex. The crucial point is that the reversal of Oedipus in Pasolini's play Affabulacione is Oedipal too: it is premised on the desire for power and the power of desire. Art and psychoanalysis here meet politics. The political aspect of mental life and its deceptive representations are also pertinent for a better understanding of Pasolini’s early films, Mamma Roma (1962) and Accatone (1961).

in Incest in contemporary literature
Editor: Miles Leeson

This is the first edited collection of essays which focuses on the incest taboo and its literary and cultural presentation from the 1950s to the present day; it considers a number of authors rather than a single author from this period. This study discusses the impact of this change in attitudes on literature and literary adaptations in the latter half of the twentieth century, and early years of the twenty-first century. Although primarily concerned with fiction, the collection includes work on television and film. This collection will enhance the growing academic interest in trauma narratives and taboo-literature, offering a useful contribution to a fast-evolving field of artistic criticism which is concerned with the relationship between social issues and creativity. Authors discussed include Iain Banks, A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Simone de Beauvoir, Ted Hughes, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan Iris Murdoch, Vladimir Nabokov, Andrea Newman and Pier Pasolini and Sylvia Plath.

Abstract only
in Incest in contemporary literature
Science fiction and the futures of the body

In evaluating the interplay of biological and social interpretations of the incest taboo, most literary commentaries have used fiction to show how notions of incest have changed historically through the variable of culture; in these accounts, the biological body remains a constant, whilst society adapts its parameters for what counts as incest. However, science fiction introduces material embodiment itself as a variable, as it hypothesises bodies that can be altered (e.g. through genetics) or even eliminated (e.g. through virtualising the mind via a computer). Through comparing three science fiction novels, this chapter evaluates whether such changing types of embodiment will also change the way in which society approaches the incest taboo, or even remove it entirely.

in Incest in contemporary literature
Metaphor and relation in the poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath

In his selections for Tales from Ovid (1995) Hughes includes several incest narratives: 'Myrrha', 'Venus and Adonis (and Atalanta)', 'Pygmalion', and 'Tereus'. In arguing that they, in addition to other 'late' Hughes poems, develop dialogic relationships with Plath's earlier texts, the chapter builds upon Lynda K. Bundtzen's observation that Hughes's Birthday Letters (1998) is centrally informed by Ovid's tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. Analysing the self reflexiveness of aspects of Ovidian narrative, Philip Hardie has commented upon the 'narcissistic and incestuous relationship between author and his book.' The complexities that Hardie outlines in Ovid's relationship with text are extended in the chaoter to consider the relationships of the two poets, Plath and Hughes, with their own and each other's texts. In the process of pursuing this idea across key poems by Plath and Hughes, the chapter further explores ways in which Ovidian mythology is transformed not only through translation but also through its proper and improper relation with other mythologisations and metaphorisations. These range from the Garden of Eden, and different versions of the Underworld, and return us to Shakespeare.

in Incest in contemporary literature
Sibling incest, class and national identity in Iain Banks’s The Steep Approach to Garbadale (2007)

The work of Iain Banks has been prominent in exploring the crossing of different kind of borders: national, aesthetic and generic, ontological, gender and class to name but a few. Banks has also been part of a wider preoccupation in contemporary Scottish writing to do with inhabiting border zones, where the border ceases to be an idealised geometric line with almost no width or physical extension, and instead broadens to become a site that one can reside in, the ground against which the figure emerges. The Bridge, along with The Crow Road (1992) forms the background of the chapter. This chapter will illuminate how The Steep Approach to Garbadale’s continuation of and departure from the border explorations and reflections on national identity of his earlier books is rendered through the crucial deployment of the motif of sibling incest in the novel.

in Incest in contemporary literature
Narrating incest through ‘différance’ in the work of Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt and Doris Lessing

Using Carter’s textual relationship with Saussure and Derrida as a starting point, this chapter will examine the writing of two other “literary” female authors and their narratological engagement with incest and difference with regard to Derridean différance. This will include a discussion of A.S. Byatt’s writing of incest and the assertion of familial class difference in Morpho Eugenia (1992). Similarly in Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (1962), there is also a social and cultural hierarchy of difference, which is expressed through the telling of incest. By linking the difference of both the incestuous and the separateness of the notebooks a reading of transcription will suggest that incest does not only fill the abject space but comes perilously closer to home.

in Incest in contemporary literature
Adaptation and reception of Andrea Newman’s A Bouquet of Barbed Wire (1969)

Engaging with adaptation theory and narrative theory, and relevant contemporaneous critical reviews, this essay textually analyses Newman’s original novel and its television adaptations and considers these in relation to audience reception, as well as to other similarly placed literary adaptations. In analysing the repression of incestuous desire, and the sado-masochistic themes that arise in A Bouquet of Barbed Wire, this chapter also refers to Freudian psychoanalysis, connecting the themes of incestuous desire, and associated guilt-induced masochism to narrative theory in the way that these dual fantasies propel the narrative forward. Finally, this essay comments upon incest as taboo in interpreting audience reception.

in Incest in contemporary literature