This book provides a lucid, wide-ranging and up-to-date critical introduction to the writings of Hélène Cixous (1937–). Cixous is often considered ‘difficult’. Moreover she is extraordinarily prolific, having published dozens of books, essays, plays and other texts. Royle avoids any pretence of a comprehensive survey, instead offering a rich and diverse sampling. At once expository and playful, original and funny, this micrological approach enables a new critical understanding and appreciation of Cixous’s writing. If there is complexity in her work, Royle suggests, there is also uncanny simplicity and great pleasure. The book focuses on key motifs such as dreams, the supernatural, literature, psychoanalysis, creative writing, realism, sexual differences, laughter, secrets, the ‘Mother unconscious’, drawing, painting, autobiography as ‘double life writing’, unidentifiable literary objects (ULOs), telephones, non-human animals, telepathy and the ‘art of cutting’. Particular stress is given to Cixous’s work in relation to Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida, as well as to her importance in the context of ‘English literature’. There are close readings of Shakespeare, Emily Brontë, P. B. Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, for example, alongside in-depth explorations of her own writings, from Inside (1969) and ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ (1975) up to the present. Royle’s book will be of particular interest to students and academics coming to Cixous’s work for the first time, but it will also appeal to readers interested in contemporary literature, creative writing, life writing, narrative theory, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, ecology, drawing and painting.
, but also in terms of how her critical work (which resides in her so-called fictional writings as well as in her essays) affects our understanding of ‘fiction’, ‘the novel’, ‘poetry’, ‘literature’, ‘creative writing’, ‘criticism’, ‘narrative theory’, ‘autobiography’, ‘lifewriting’ and so on. Cixous is not so much ‘a writer’s writer’, as a poetic thinker who compels us to develop new ways of approaching both creative and critical writing, both literature and literary criticism and theory.
Historians, critics and theorists alike have tended to overlook
English literary afterlives covers the Renaissance treatment of the posthumous
literary life. It argues for the emergence of biographical reading practices
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as early readers attempted to
link the literary output of dead authors to their personal lives. Early modern
authors’ complex attitudes to print, and their attempts to ‘fashion’ their own
careers through their writings, have been well documented. This study, by
contrast, explores how authors and their literary reputations after their deaths
were fashioned (and sometimes appropriated) by early modern readers, publishers
and printers. It examines the use of biographical prefaces in early modern
editions, the fictional presentation of historical poets, pseudo-biography, as
well as more conventional modes such as elegy and the exemplary life. By
analysing responses to a series of major literary figures after their deaths –
Geoffrey Chaucer, Philip Sidney, Robert Greene, Edmund Spenser, John Donne and
George Herbert – English literary afterlives charts the pre-history of literary
biography in the period and presents a counternarrative to established ideas of
authorial emergence through self-fashioning. The book is aimed at scholars and
students of the individual authors covered (Sidney, Spenser, Greene, Donne and
Herbert), as well as readers interested in book history, reception history,
authorship and life-writing.
generic study, The Nature of Biography , Robert Gittings even termed Roper’s omission of Utopia a ‘notable and obvious [gap] […] which a modern writer would never allow [since it is] the first thing a present-day reader would wish to hear about’. 16 In fact, the omission is ‘obvious’ in more than one sense: Roper’s decision not to mention Utopia is not only the first thing a ‘present-day reader’ might notice about the Life of Syr Thomas More , it is equally ‘obvious’ given the life-writing conventions he was drawing on. As indicated by the full title of the Life
take the reverse approach by examining Marlowe’s biography to discover how much of it was in fact ‘constructed’ by critical discourse about his works. Finally, there is the study of ‘life-writing’, whose growing significance is exemplified by the very scale of an ongoing project: the Oxford History of Life-Writing with its projected seven volumes. 19 That particular project is interesting in this context because its scope represents an emphatic statement about the significance of this field of research: stretching from antiquity to the present and surveying
derangers. Now, a few decades later, while we continue to reckon with écriture féminine , we might also supplement and reinforce it with other figures: double lifewriting, night writing, submarine writing, dream children’s literature, the maiopic, ornithophony and so on. 8
In ‘Sorties’ Cixous outlines a notion of bisexuality, a sense of being, feeling, thinking and writing that is not predicated on a logic of ‘warding off castration’:
Therefore, I shall distinguish between two bisexualities, two opposite ways of imagining the possibility and practice
writing calls for a different thinking of all the disciplines and lines between them – ‘biology’ (the study of ‘life’) and ‘history’ (so many his and her and other creatures’ stories) as much as ‘literary studies’, ‘theory’, ‘fiction’, ‘autobiography’, ‘lifewriting’. She invites us to draw them all otherwise.
Scholars, cultural historians and bibliographers may continue to classify early texts such as ‘Fiction and Its Phantoms’ (1972), ‘Sorties’ (1975) and ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ (1975) as ‘critical essays’, but the writing itself will always resist such
1640 Life of Donne marks the beginning of Walton’s life-writing and is the one among his Lives which underwent the most – and the most substantial – revisions. In its different versions, the Life of Donne reflects Walton’s growing interest in reading Donne’s works biographically and using them in his Life . In the following, I shall particularly highlight the differences between the 1640 and the 1658 version, because they illustrate this development most clearly. The Life of Herbert , on the other hand, represents the late phase of Walton’s life-writing. It
representation she or he creates. In the
opening quotation from the preface above, Ro:Ba: stresses
‘care’ and ‘fidelitie’ in life-writing, but
he seems uneasy with this obligation. Although keen to emphasise the
value of the labour of life-writing (p. 10), he is equally keen to
confess his unoriginality as a writer, claiming that: ‘the
most part of this booke is none of my owne; I onely
: Syrens, 1994).
24 Hélène Cixous and Mireille Calle-Gruber, Rootprints: Memory and LifeWriting , trans. Eric Prenowitz (London: Routledge, 1997), 18.
25 Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing , 124–5.
26 Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing , 81.
27 Cixous, ‘Writing Blind’, 144.
28 Gilles Deleuze, ‘Hélène Cixous or Stroboscopic Writing’, trans. Martin McQuillan, in Reading Cixous Writing , ed. Martin McQuillan, special issue of Oxford Literary Review , 24 (2002), 204.
29 Jacques Derrida, H.C. for