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Cixous's Semi-FictionsThinking at the Borders of Fiction$
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Mairéad Hanrahan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748642281

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748642281.001.0001

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The Illegitimate Mother:

The Illegitimate Mother:


(p.94) Chapter 4 The Illegitimate Mother
Cixous's Semi-Fictions

Mairéad Hanrahan

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter indirectly connects with the question for which Cixous remains best known today, the notion of écriture feminine developed in her short text ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’, through consideration of the fiction she wrote at the same time, Souffles. It focusses on the figure of the mother, investigating especially how the mother is a metaphor. Souffles is a hymn of praise to two writers who can only metaphorically be considered mothers, the homosexual male writer, Jean Genet, and the celibate nun, St. Theresa of Avila. The position of mother is available to anyone able and willing to invent it, notably ‘poets’ who are not threatened by a porous border between self and other. The generosity that Cixous had considered a ‘feminine’ property in ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ is here a characteristic of the ‘mother’ but also of the ‘nègre’. Already in 1974, Souffles proposed a visionary harnessing of sexual and postcolonial politics.

Keywords:   Souffles, The Laugh of the Medusa, Feminism, Politics, Jean Genet, Postcolonialism, Translation

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