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Sarduy avec Lacan: The Portrayal of French Psychoanalysis in Cobra and La simulación rubén gallo princeton university  This essay will explore the relationship between Severo Sarduy and Jacques Lacan—a pairing that most readers might find odd and discordant. One was a mischievous Cuban writer known for his wild novels about transvestites and campy women; the other, a severe French intellectual famous for his extraordinarily complex psychoanalytic writings. Sarduy was born to a humble family in the provincial town of Camagüey; Lacan, to an elegant couple of haute bourgeois Parisians. One was known for drinking cocktails at the Café de Flore, on Saint Germain des Près; the other for teaching seminars on castration, transference, and the phallus at the university. One published novels with titles like Pájaros de la playa; the other, academic articles devoted to ‘‘The gaze as objet petit a’’ and ‘‘The function of the ‘I.’’’ Could these two writers have anything in common? Despite their extremely different styles, Sarduy and Lacan crossed paths several times during the height of Structuralism, and they influenced each other’s work. As I will argue in this essay, Sarduy developed a serious dialogue with Lacan and his psychoanalytic concepts in his novels and essays. Although most scholarship on Severo Sarduy mentions the fact that he was an avid reader of Jacques Lacan (see, for example, the texts by Montero, González Echevarrı́a, and Márquez), no one has provided a detailed account of how the Cuban novelist read and transformed the work of the French analyst. In this essay I propose to undertake such a project by focusing on two works, a novel and an essay: Cobra (1971) and La simulación (1981). After identifying the key allusions to Lacan and Lacanian concepts in these two works, I will argue that Sarduy was one of the most original readers of the French analyst, because his work proposes a radical, new model for interpreting many of the analyst’s theoretical formulations. Severo Sarduy arrived in Paris in 1960 after receiving a scholarship from the newly formed Cuban government to study at the École de Beaux Arts in Paris. Shortly after his arrival, he met the man who would be his lover for the rest of his life: François Wahl, an editor at the French publishing house Éditions du Seuil, who introduced Sarduy to the stars of Parisian intellectual life in the 1960s, including Roland Barthes, Philippe Sollers, Julia Kristeva, and other members of 36  Revista Hispánica Moderna 60.1 (2007) Tel Quel, the avant-garde journal that played a crucial role in the development of structuralist thought. Sarduy also met Jacques Lacan, who had an especially close relationship with Éditions du Seuil: Wahl had spent the six years between 1954 and 1960 in analysis with Lacan, had attended most of his weekly seminars first at Sainte Anne and later at the École Normale Supérieure, and it was he who convinced the analyst—who had such an aversion to putting his ideas in writing that he referred to publishing as ‘‘poubellication’’(Roudinesco 471)—to gather the selection of lectures, conference papers, and seminars in the famous volume released in 1966 under the title Écrits (419). During the mid sixties Wahl worked very closely with Lacan correcting, editing , and annotating the essays that were to be included in Écrits. It was an intense collaboration, and during these years Sarduy was constantly exposed to Lacan’s ideas and also to his eccentricities. Wahl remembers that the analyst would call him at all hours, sometimes waking him up in the middle of the night to discuss a new idea or ask him for advice with a text (Wahl, ‘‘Severo’’ 1485; Gallo 52)— nocturnal interruptions that Sarduy did not appreciate. Through his lengthy collaboration with Wahl, Lacan, too, was exposed to Sarduy ’s ideas and to his literary and cultural interests. It was probably Sarduy, an enthusiast of Spanish poetry, who introduced the analyst to the works of Luis de Góngora, the baroque Spanish poet. Reading Góngora made such an impression on the analyst that once, when a reader complained...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6446
Print ISSN
0034-9593
Pages
pp. 34-60
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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