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Psyche of Feminism

Psyche of Feminism: Sand, Colette, Sarraute

Catherine M. Peebles
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    Psyche of Feminism
    Book Description:

    The Psyche of Feminism argues that a feminist ethics, in order to be both feminist and ethical, needs to embrace psychoanalysis. After reviewing the relation between feminism and psychoanalysis and arguing for the centrality of psychoanalysis to feminist thought, the study offers an analysis of two attempts by George Sand to reimagine the sexual relationship (Letters to Marcie, Lelia), where the emphasis is on political injustice and the impossibility of women's desires. Moving from rights and desires to the question of pleasures, Peebles then takes up a relatively little-read work by Colette, The Pure and the Impure, in which the narrator suggests that pleasure and its corporeal language hold the key to any understanding of masculinity and femininity.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-089-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  2. Introduction Psychoanalytic Feminism: Sexual Difference and Another Love
    (pp. 1-32)

    Psychoanalytic feminism is a field that has only begun to emerge over the past three decades, and the question of what constitutes its approach is still being negotiated. Works by Luce Irigaray, Juliet Mitchell, and Sarah Kofman, as well as more recent explorations of the question of femininity in psychoanalytic theory such as Teresa Brennan’sInterpretation of the Flesh(1992), Jessica Benjamin’sThe Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism and the Problem of Domination(1988), and those gathered in Richard Feldstein and Judith Roof’sFeminism and Psychoanalysis(1989) have had an important influence, both in their content and in their spurring...

  3. Chapter One George Sand and the Impossible Woman
    (pp. 33-86)

    It would be difficult to think of an author as in1portant to the development of women’s writing and feminism in France as George Sand, the more so because her relation to both of these categories is ambiguous. If she wrote “as a woman,ֺ” then she also wrote “as a man.” If she was a feminist, arguing for the right of women to divorce and for an end to their social and political oppression, she also dissociated herself from feminist groups, and rejected the idea that women should take up positions in the “virile public functions” of the state¹ (Lettres á...

  4. Chapter Two What Does a Woman Enjoy? Colette’s Le pur et l’hnpur
    (pp. 87-125)

    Toward the end of his career, Freud famously told his one-time analysand, then friend and benefactress, Marie Bonaparte,¹ that the most important question for psychoanalysis was the one he had not been able to answer throughout all his research and practice: “The great question, which has never been answered and which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is’ What does a woman want?’”² This oft-quoted question defines the problem of sexual difference as synonymous with that posed by Woman’s difference from Man. Her desire, as opposed to his, isa...

  5. Chapter Three Nathalie Sarraute: After the Feminine Subject
    (pp. 126-162)

    In this chapter, I argue that Nathalie Sarraute’s writing can offer an impoltant direction to contelnporary thinking about ethics and sexual difference. To elect Sarraute as a writer who speaks to the question of “ethics and sexual difference” or even “wolnen’s writing” may seem perverse, and calls for some sort of initial explanation. Sarraute’s work, fromTropismes(1939) to the 1989 text to be discussed here, often blurs, disregards, or specifically rejects the difference between the sexes in favor of other idiosyncrasies of a writing or written subject. It is precisely for this reason, I will argue, that her work...

  6. Conclusion The Psyche of Feminism
    (pp. 163-172)

    In recent discussions of the cunent state of felninism,¹ contemporary feminist thought is largely divided between an “old guard” primarily concerned with equality, and a “new guard” associated with various “posts” (-modern, -colonial, -feminist). The post-group challenges the stable identity of “women,” while the old guard widens its eyes in alarm at the inverted commas, attentive as it is to the struggles of real women.

    This polarization may be no more than the residue of a split soon to be left behind by a third stream in feminist thought, a stream that has internalized both the political urgency of the...

  7. Appendix English Translations
    (pp. 173-196)