Hustvedt’s Textual Skin
This chapter provides a close analysis of Didier Anzieu's concept of the ‘skin ego’ in order to rethink the relationship between the skin, the psyche and the literary text. Discussing Anzieu's account of the three primary functions of the skin as a ‘container’, an ‘interface’ and an ‘inscribing surface’, it examines the representation of the textual skin in Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved. Reading the numerous instances of ‘dermographism’ in Hustvedt's novel, alongside attempts by characters to generate a ‘second skin’, the chapter also considers the relationship between the surface of the body and aesthetic form, exploring the different ways that writing might perform literary contact. Interrogating Anzieu's description of a ‘skin of words’, it argues that a text, like a skin, is caught up in an endless process of destruction and renewal.
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