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Reviews145 and formal beginnings is too simple a formula for his own insights and demonstrates the complexity well in the beginning of TL· Portrait of a Lady. Most impressively, Nuttall develops powerful arguments for the referentiality of fiction: books are inspired by something real—a Muse, a past, a recollection, or an intractable world. My only disappointment with Openings is, perhaps, that it is not the book that I wished for. It does not have the sinuous grace or discursive power of Kermode and it is not a companion piece to The Sense ofan Ending. It is, however, a sensitive presentation of a critical perspective on textuality and intertextuality that deserves respect and attention. Whitman CollegeEdward E. Foster Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine, by Margaret Whitford; xiii & 241 pp. New York: Routledge, 1991, $14.95 paper. Margaret Whitford's italicized concern with Luce Irigaray as a "feminist philosopher with emphasis on both terms" (p. 3) takes her to the heart of Irigaray's extensive and often very difficult opus. Spanning two decades and weaving in and out of discourses relevant to psychoanalysis, linguistics, and philosophy, that opus is difficult to systematize and easy to misread, as Whitford's careful presentation both of Irigaray and her critics makes clear. In her introductory remarks Whitford herself confesses that "it has been a struggle to read and elucidate [Irigaray], and to come to some understanding of her critique of rationality which appeared to go against my whole intellectual training" (p. 4). What stands out in reading Whitford's wonderfully coherent and well-researched interpretation of Irigaray's world view is the great gift that these two feminist philosophers of radically different intellectual styles have been to one another. Irigaray's insistence that woman is homeless in the symbolic order appears to have validated Whitford's sense that as a female philosopher she had long been working "in the desert" (p. vi). Whitford, in her organized, philosophical way, meets Irigaray's slippery, elided, linguistically convoluted prose in the place of a shared sense of disaffection within the intellectual traditions in which they find themselves. Irigaray's attention to the ways in which the canonic philosophers, from Plato to Descartes to Kant to Hegel to Merleau-Ponty, have erected an account of culture that relies on the reduction of woman to mother, and of mother to the status of selflessness, appears to 146Philosophy and Literature have energized Whitford's effort to disentangle Irigaray's prose and make her accessible to other readers. By proposing a differentiation with the mother that is interactive and not simply one ofeither merger or rejection, Irigaray offers a challenge to Western thought that is saving and salubrious. To allow woman a place in the symbolic that is contiguous with the mother rather than identifkatory or disjunctive would be to give woman an identity, since the identity ofmother in the dominant culture is one of being for the other, and never for the self. It would also open up the space for a female genealogy, for a feminine continuity that is symbolized, not left as all-powerful and foreclosed in the imaginary. Irigaray's insistence on the importance ofgender difference puts her at odds both with philosophers who call into question any fixed notion of identity, and with feminists shy of what might be understood as essentializing categories. More importandy, since he is clearly a founding father for Irigaray as for so many other French thinkers, feminist or not, it puts her at odds with Lacan, for whom the question of castration plays such a central role. Irigaray would like to propose an imaginary that would allow for representation not only of the father but also the mother. Whitford does a brilliant and illuminatingjob (see chapter4, "Maternal Genealogy and the Symbolic") ofshowing how Irigaray exposes the naturalizing underpinnings of the Lacanian notions of castration and the Phallus—their unbroken connection to literal castration and the literal penis despite disclaimers to the contrary. Whitford presents Irigaray as arguing for the possibility ofa female symbolic and a female imaginary, based on the different morphology of female embodiment , while also answering successfully the charge that in so doing Irigaray has fallen into the trap...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 145-147
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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