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HUMANITIES 581 not deliberately 'toying' with the latest trends. However, in the earlier sections in particular, her readings are marred by the constant reference and deference to the theorists who frame the discussion, a habit that infects too much academic writing. As well, Barbara Godard's Gynocritics and Smaro Kamboureli's Amazing Space would be useful additions to the bibliography and to the feminist readings of some of these novels. Inguiding our reading of a selection ofexperimental Canadian women's novels, signposted by theorists like Lacan, Foucault, and Deleuze and Guatteri, Marlene Goldman performs a timely and important ftmction. (KATHY MEZEI) Helene Cixous and Mireille Calle-Gruber. Helene Cixous Rootprints: Memory and Life Writing Routledge. x, 254. us$17.95 Helene CixousRootprints, which was first published in French in 1994, seems more like a collective work, since its contributors include Cixous as its main author, Mireille Calle-Gruber as her interviewer and critic, Jacques Derrida as her commentator, and Marguerite Sandre and Eric Prenowitz as her bibliographers. The first half of the book (115 pages), which I found the more exciting, is devoted to 'Inter Views' ('We Are Already in the Jaws of the Book') of Cixous by Calle-Gruber on the various themes and implications of her writings: otherness, love~ giving, blindness, sexual difference, undecidability, and so on. The second section, 'Appendices/ contains short extracts (16 pages) from both Derrida's and Cixous's contributions to a 1990Paris Conference on 'Readings ofSexual Difference.' The following 40 pages, 'Portrait of the Writing,' consist of three critical studies by Calle-Gruber. Then follows 'Album and Legends,' a unique collection of thirty-seven photographs taken from the Cixous family album and accompanied by her personal reflections on the geographic, historical, literary, and spiritual roots of her writing. A fifth section, 'Chronicle/ is a short history of Cixous's life devised by Calle-Gruber. The book ends with an international bibliography of Cixous's works followed by'Aftermaths,' an 11-pagetextby Prenowitz, the book's translator.With a beautiful collage of snapshots on its cover, the volume is elegantly presented and the /Inter Views' are dotted with rectangular /windows' in italics featuring fascinating extracts from Cixous~s personal notebooks. Rootprints gives a totally different image of Cixous from the North American stereotype of an exulting but 'essentialist' French feminist, a reputation based on a few essays dating back to the 1970s. Cixous has written about thirty poetic fictions and eight plays, many of them not yet translated into English. As an Algerian Jew ofSpanish origin on her father's side and with strong Germanic ties on her mother's, Cixous, who is a specialist in James Joyce and an admirer of Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Clarice 582 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 Lispector, and Marina Tsvetaeva, declares humorously that since 1955 her nationality has been Literature. She considers herself a poet preoccupied mainly with language and creativity, but as this book shows, she is also a philosopher whose profound concern for truth and passionate devotion to others place her firmly in a strong Jewish spiritual tradition. Her writing process, which seeks to reach the invisible, grows from the inner depths of her unconscious and involves her whole 'living and complete body.' It also entails an act of love: a gift to others who live in this world and are also present within her. Her constant play on language and her gift for coining new words and metaphors which open her texts onto many levels of meanings originate partly from her father, who had forged a sort of family idiom mockingly grafted on the German language, thus initiating her into 'juggling' with signifiers. They also relate to her need to transcend language and its cliches in order to reach a 'beyond' which often reflects a refusal to choose between two seemingly opposite terms. The openness or 'undecidability ' of her texts, informed by a quest for truth, makes her very close to Derrida and his deconstructive project. Calle-Gruber's critical texts, which are themselves very Cixousian through their poetic play on language, use, appropriately, such subtitles as 'Beyond-sex, beyond-text,' 'Reach the unknown ,' 'A Subject at risk,' and 'The oxymoric narrative,' in an insightful attempt to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 581-582
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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