The Laugh of the Medusa & Jamaica Kincaid

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A couple of posts ago, I wrote asking for your help coming up with examples of écriture feminine, Cixous's term for writing associated with the feminine/female, for my lovely Pine Manor student.

In "The Laugh of the Medusa," Cixous writes:

It is impossible to define a feminine practice of writing, and this is an impossibility which will remain, for this practice can never by theorized, enclosed, coded . . . it will always surpass the discourse that regulates the phallocentric system . . .
That said, she explains:

Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes, they must submerge, cut through, get beyond the ultimate reserve-discourse . . . Such is the strength of women that, sweeping away syntax, breaking that famous thread (just a tiny little thread, they say) which acts for men as a surrogate umbilical cord . . .
The other night, it hit me:  Jamaica Kincaid!  Maybe not all her work, but definitely the stories in her slender, beautiful collection At the Bottom of the River and also her painful, hypnotic memoir My Brother, about her brother's death in Antigua from AIDS.  Just her short story "Girl" might be a wonderful short example of her work in this regard.

Other suggestions?  Come on, I know there are some literary folks out there!


fayepoet said:

Your question got me thinking about how I drawn I am to works which evoke a visceral response. I've just finished Jacqueline Woodson's "Autobiography of a Family Photo." It's written as a series of small snapshots, vignettes, really that breath from Jackie's every pore. The overall effect is evocative and memorable.

Another book is Joan Didion's memoir of loss- "The Year of Magical Thinking." It was so painful yet compelling. I wondered how she was able to write so close to the bone and break through so many personal barriers. At the end, I was grateful for her candor and the courage of her intimacy.

June 27, 2008 6:22 PM

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