Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Portable Kristeva

The Portable Kristeva

Kelly Oliver Editor
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 2
Pages: 512
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Portable Kristeva
    Book Description:

    As a linguist, Julia Kristeva has pioneered a revolutionary theory of the sign in its relation to social and political emancipation; as a practicing psychoanalyst, she has produced work on the nature of the human subject and sexuality, and on the "new maladies" of today's neurotic. The Portable Kristeva is the only fully comprehensive compilation of Kristeva's key writings. The second edition includes added material from Kristeva's most important works of the past five years, including The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt, Intimate Revolt, and Hannah Arendt. Editor Kelly Oliver has also added new material to the introduction, summarizing Kristeva's latest intellectual endeavors and updating the bibliography.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51806-2
    Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature, Psychology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface: About This Collection
    (pp. vii-x)
    Kelly Oliver
  4. Introduction: Kristeva’s Revolutions
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    Meaning has become the central problem of philosophy and the human sciences. I am thinking of two general senses in which this is true. Contemporary theorists ask, “What does our language mean, to what does it refer?” And this question stands upon another, larger, question that has been the subject of philosophy since its inception—“What is the meaning of life?” Meaning operates on various interconnected levels simultaneously. For example, the ordinary language philosopher determines precisely what we mean when we use a particular word by looking at how the word is used. The philologist traces the etymological history of...

  5. PART 1 Kristeva’s Trajectory:: In Her Own Words

    • “My Memory’s Hyperbole” (1984), from New York Literary Forum
      (pp. 3-22)

      When the New York Literary Forum asked me to contribute an autobiographical text for this special issue, I had just finished reading La Cérémonie des adieux by Simone de Beauvoir. One must surely be endowed with the naive cruelty of this exceptional woman to create such a myth or, at the very least, to make it exist by giving it a narrative thread. In spite of the legend that surrounds the author of Mandarins, I am convinced that she has still not been properly evaluated as a chronicler who knew how to construct an entire cultural phenomenon. And isn’t it...

  6. PART 2 The Subject in Signifying Practice

    • [PART 2 Introduction]
      (pp. 23-26)

      Revolution in Poetic Language is probably Julia Kristeva’s best-known text, for the central themes of her work over the last two decades have their beginnings here. Kristeva presented La Révolution du langage poétique, 646 pages, for her State Doctorate in July 1973 in Paris. It was originally published in 1974 by Editions du Seuil. Columbia University Press published Margaret Waller’s translation of just one-third of the original text in 1984. The following selection is part of that translation. The portions of Révolution that have not been translated contain detailed analyses of texts by Lautréamont and Mallarmé. Those translated into English...

    • Revolution in Poetic Language (1974)
      (pp. 27-92)

      Our philosophies of language, embodiments of the Idea, are nothing more than the thoughts of archivists, archaeologists, and necrophiliacs. Fascinated by the remains of a process that is partly discursive, they substitute this fetish for what actually produced it. Egypt, Babylon, Mycenae: we see their pyramids, their carved tablets, and fragmented codes in the discourse of our contemporaries and think that by codifying them we can possess them.

      These static thoughts, products of a leisurely cogitation removed from historical turmoil, persist in seeking the truth of language by formalizing utterances that hang in midair and the truth of the subject...

    • Desire in Language (1980)
      (pp. 93-115)

      I shall attempt, within the ritual limits of a one-hour seminar, to posit (if not to demonstrate) that every language theory is predicated upon a conception of the subject that it explicitly posits, implies, or tries to deny. Far from being an “epistemological perversion,” a definite subject is present as soon as there is consciousness of signification. Consequently, I shall need to outline an epistemological itinerary: taking three stages in the recent history of linguistic theory, I shall indicate the variable position these may have required of the speaking subject-support within their object language. This—on the whole, technical—foray...

    • Time and Sense (1994)
      (pp. 116-132)

      We know that the notion of sensation is not central in Freud’s writings. Even so, he addresses the concept in his letters to Fliess (1887–1902), in his Project for a Scientific Psychology (1895), in his Interpretation of Dreams (1900), and finally in his much-discussed Note upon the “Mystic Writing-Pad” (1925). Although Freud adapts his notion of sensation to suit his continually developing work, certain points remain consistent throughout these four texts.

      First of all, perception is connected to the Perceptual-Conscious system, which lacks memory because it retains no trace of what has occurred.

      Yet in the beginning were perceptions....

  7. PART 3 Psychoanalysis of Love:: A Counterdepressant

    • [PART 3 Introduction]
      (pp. 133-136)

      Histoires d’amour was originally published in Paris by Denoël in 1983. It was translated as Tales of Love by Leon Roudiez for Columbia University Press in 1987. In Tales of Love Kristeva develops a theory and history of love wherein it operates between need and desire. She substantiates her theory with analyses of love from Plato’s eros, through biblical love, Christian Agape, Molière’s Dom Juan, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Jeanne Guyon the mystic’s eroticism, Baudelaire’s passion, Stendhal’s politics of passion, to Bataille’s erotics.

      She begins Tales of Love with an analysis of Freud’s theory of eros. An earlier version of...

    • Tales of Love (1987)
      (pp. 137-179)

      In his journey through the land of love Freud reaches Narcissus only after having traveled over the dissociated space of hysteria. The latter leads him to establish the “psychic space” that he will explode, first through Narcissus and finally through the death drive, into the impossible spaces of “lovehate,”¹ that is, infinite transference.

      The hypothesis of Narcissus is crucial to this Freudian course. Before calling itself “death,” the libido undergoes a first threat to its omnipotence—one that makes the existence of an other for the self appear problematic. Freud seems to suggest that it is not Eros but narcissistic...

    • Black Sun (1989)
      (pp. 180-202)

      For those who are racked by melancholia, writing about it would have meaning only if writing sprang out of that very melancholia. I am trying to address an abyss of sorrow, a noncommunicable grief that at times, and often on a long-term basis, lays claims upon us to the extent of having us lose all interest in words, actions, and even life itself. Such despair is not a revulsion that would imply my being capable of desire and creativity, negative indeed but present. Within depression, if my existence is on the verge of collapsing, its lack of meaning is not...

    • New Maladies of the Soul (1993)
      (pp. 203-224)

      Do you have a soul? This question, which may be philosophical, theological, or simply misguided in nature, has a particular relevance for our time. In the wake of psychiatric medicines, aerobics, and media zapping, does the soul still exist?

      Fruitful debates between ancient Greek doctors and philosophers caused the “psyche” to undergo some delicate variations before becoming the “anima” of the Latin Stoics. Doctors of antiquity returned to the metaphysical distinction between the body and the soul and came up with a viable analogy that prefigured modern psychiatry: they spoke of “maladies of the soul” that were comparable to maladies...

  8. PART 4 Individual and National Identity

    • [PART 4 Introduction]
      (pp. 225-228)

      Pouvoirs de l’horreur was originally published in Paris by Editions du Seuil in 1980. It was translated as Powers of Horror, by Leon Roudiez for Columbia University Press in 1982. Part of that translation appears here. In Powers of Horror, Kristeva analyzes the separations necessary to set up identity. She applies her analysis of perversion and phobia to the work of Louis-Ferdinand Céline.

      In Powers of Horror, relying on the work of Mary Douglas in Purity and Danger (1969), Kristeva defines a notion of abjection with which she diagnoses separation and identification in both individuals and nations or societies. In...

    • Powers of Horror (1980)
      (pp. 229-263)

      There looms, within abjection, one of those violent, dark revolts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced. Apprehensive, desire turns aside; sickened, it rejects. A certainty protects it from the shameful—a certainty of which it is proud holds on to it. But simultaneously, just the same, that impetus, that spasm, that leap is drawn toward...

    • Strangers to Ourselves (1989)
      (pp. 264-294)

      Foreigner: a choked up rage deep down in my throat, a black angel clouding transparency, opaque, unfathomable spur. The image of hatred and of the other, a foreigner is neither the romantic victim of our clannish indolence nor the intruder responsible for all the ills of the polis. Neither the apocalypse on the move nor the instant adversary to be eliminated for the sake of appeasing the group. Strangely, the foreigner lives within us: he is the hidden face of our identity, the space that wrecks our abode, the time in which understanding and affinity founder. By recognizing him within...

  9. PART 5 Maternity, Feminism, and Female Sexuality

    • [PART 5 Introduction]
      (pp. 295-302)

      “Motherhood According to Giovanni Bellini” was first published in Peinture in December 1975 (when Kristeva was pregnant with her son who was born in 1976) and was reprinted in Polylogue (Paris: Editions de Seuil) in 1977. The first section, “The Maternal Body,” first appeared in translation by Claire Pajaczkowska in the journal m/f in 1979. It was translated by Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine, and Leon Roudiez in Desire in Language, edited by Leon Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press) in 1980. “The Maternal Body,” from Desire in Language is reprinted here. In this section, Kristeva sets up a theory of...

    • Desire in Language (1980)
      (pp. 303-309)

      Cells fuse, split, and proliferate; volumes grow, tissues stretch, and body fluids change rhythm, speeding up or slowing down. Within the body, growing as a graft, indomitable, there is an other. And no one is present, within that simultaneously dual and alien space, to signify what is going on. “It happens, but I’m not there.” “I cannot realize it, but it goes on.” Motherhood’s impossible syllogism.

      This becoming-a-mother, this gestation, can possibly be accounted for by means of only two discourses. There is science; but as an objective discourse, science is not concerned with the subject, the mother as site...

    • Tales of Love (1987)
      (pp. 310-333)

      If it is not possible to say of a woman what she is (without running the risk of abolishing her difference), would it perhaps be different concerning the mother, since that is the only function of the “other sex” to which we can definitely attribute existence? And yet, there, too, we are caught in a paradox. First, we live in a civilization where the consecrated (religious or secular) representation of femininity is absorbed by motherhood. If, however, one looks at it more closely, this motherhood is the fantasy that is nurtured by the adult, man or woman, of a lost...

    • Julia Kristeva in Conversation with Rosalind Coward (1984)
      (pp. 333-350)
      Julia Kristeva and Rosalind Coward

      rosalind coward: Could you say something more about your notion of transference in the book [Tales of Love]. At one point you say that almost all of human history and human philosophy around the subject of love could be described as a transference. Could you explain that a bit more?

      kristeva: The word transference is a technical word, it comes from psychoanalysis. I think it was a great discovery by Freud to consider that what happens between the patient and the analyst is a sort of love which is a displacement of love-traumatism or love-disappointments from the past reality through...

    • New Maladies of the Soul
      (pp. 351-382)

      The nation, which was the dream and the reality of the nineteenth century, seems to have reached both its peak and its limit with the 1929 crash and the National Socialist apocalypse. We have witnessed the destruction of its very foundation—economic homogeneity, historical tradition, and linguistic unity. World War II, which was fought in the name of national values, brought an end to the reality of the nation, which it turned into a mere illusion that has been preserved for ideological or strictly political purposes ever since. Even if the resurgence of nations and nationalists may warrant hope or...

    • Black Sun (1989)
      (pp. 383-398)

      The Body as Tomb or the Omnipotent Devouring. From the time of her birth Helen suffered from serious motor problems that had required several surgical operations and confined her to bed until she was three. The little girl’s brilliant intellectual development, however, enabled her to have an equally brilliant professional career, all the more so since nothing remains of her earlier motor deficiencies or of the family context that, quite obviously, fostered them.

      Nothing, that is, aside from frequent instances of serious depression that did not seem triggered by the current reality, a rather prosperous one, of Helen’s life. A...

    • Hannah Arendt (1999)
      (pp. 399-408)

      “What a genius!” Our recent claims of discovering “genius” within ourselves—whether in the form of a talent, a natural gift, or a prolonged search for truth—have put an end to the ancient deification of personality. At first, the divine spirit charged with watching over the birth of the future hero was transformed into a viable means of innovation.¹ As Voltaire put it, “this invention in particular appeared to be a gift from the gods; this ingenium quasi ingenitum was a sort of divine inspiration.” Whether by simple metonymy or by analogy, “a genius” later became someone who “displayed...

  10. PART 6 Revolt and Imagination

    • [PART 6 Introduction]
      (pp. 409-412)

      The Sense and Non-sense of Revolt, translated by Jeanine Herman and published by Columbia University Press in 2000, is the first volume of The Powers and Limits of Psychoanalysis, which presents a two-year lecture course given by Kristeva at the University of Paris VII. Her 1994–1995 seminar was transcribed and edited by her students and published in 1996 by Fayard as Sens et non-sens de la révolte. Here Kristeva revisits the theme of revolution so prominent in her earlier work. In Revolution in Poetic Language Kristeva identifies the possibility of revolution in language—a revolution she deems analogous to...

    • The Sense and Non-sense of Revolt (1996)
      (pp. 413-434)

      The title of this book is meant to evoke the current political state and the lack of revolt that characterizes it. I promise not to elude this aspect of the problem, but I will approach things from a bit of a distance: from the roots of memory, which is nothing other than language and the unconscious. There are two facets to the reflections presented here: the first concerns psychoanalysis, its history, and its present state; the second takes into consideration different literary texts.

      I will explain first what I mean by “revolt” and why the problematic of the sense and...

    • Intimate Revolt (1998)
      (pp. 435-450)

      While we celebrate the events of May 1968, some people writing novels about it, others denouncing its imposture, analysts have facilitated its eternal return in well-worn words. The enraged have taken up the path of intimate revolt. It is the same one: that of realists who want the impossible.

      Poetry has always been able to utter the will of free will, coming back to the memory of words and extracting its sense and time. In periods that we vaguely sense to be in decline or at least in suspension, questioning remains the only possible thought: an indication of life that...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 451-454)
  12. Index
    (pp. 455-472)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 473-474)