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Tactile PoeticsTouch and Contemporary Writing$
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Sarah Jackson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748685318

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748685318.001.0001

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Writing Bodies

Writing Bodies

Hustvedt’s Textual Skin

(p.14) Chapter 1 Writing Bodies
Tactile Poetics

Sarah Jackson

Edinburgh University Press

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.

Keywords:   container, dermographism, inscribing surface, interface, second skin, skin ego, Didier Anzieu, Siri Hustvedt

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