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L ’E sp r it C r é a t e u r or propping ("fig u re” as rhetorical term being subtended by figure as corporeal form ). Now, contem porary psychoanalytic theory has extensively discussed the problem atic in question, and this leads Willis to begin her study with a detailed, sometimes confusing, discussion of com peting form ulations of the articulation. W hat emerges, however, is the im portance of the idea of propping (as discussed by Laplanche, Kristéva, Doane), which, as that which describes how sexuality relates to vital processes, is brought to bear on the rela­ tion between gender and desire, between body and writing. Thus, the sense of propping is transferred from its psychoanalytic context, through associated notions such as suture and grafting, to a theory of textuality based on the idea of translation, in order to describe texts which “ perpetually displac(e] the body that cannot be buried, autom atically repeating their signifying m echanism s” (163); or which displace and “ appeal to ” fem ininity the way a translation displaces yet appeals to an original (165). A lthough the strength of W illis’ analysis resides in this transition from propping as psychoanalytic figure to translation as figure o f textual operations, the same transition creates a tension in her own writing which needs to be m ore explicitly addressed. Psycho­ analysis, as discourse o f/o n the subject, projects a theory of meaning that does not neces­ sarily constitute a theory o f textuality, and much o f W illis’ early discussion works astride the two dom ains w ithout m aking clear how the reading will finally have them relate. T hat is not to say that these pages, such as those relating to H iroshim a m on am our (52-59) or to Le Vice-consul (105-10) do not offer excellent analyses on both sides. But one has to wait for the final chapter to appreciate the extent to which, as stated early on, “ D uras’ narratives approach the unrepresentable . . . through their insistence on borders, on exploring the limits o f their own discursive practice, discursive spacing, and rupture” (24). T hus, what is for me the most radical “ conclusion” Willis draws extends beyond a psychoanalytic fram e­ w ork, and is found, perhaps sym ptom atically, w ithin parentheses: “ (D uras’ texts . . . inscribe death itself, the death o f the text)” (164). Since the m aterial Willis draw s upon is com prehensive and spreads across literary and film theory—references to M arcelle M arini and M ary A nn D oane, for exam ple, are im por­ tant and useful, although R opars’ Le Texte divisé seems to be an om ission— one would like to have seen her be m ore attentive to the often radical form ulations of textual relations as “ translations” which are discussed in that work. I am thinking for instance o f how M arini articulates the relevance of Irigaray to her reading, or how Ropars finds in Eisenstein (with the help of D errida) an idea o f the film text as fundam entally incoherent, or how both frac­ ture the proper nam e to generate m eaning. Such practices lie on the borders where psycho­ analysis meets a(n other) theory o f textuality and, to the extent that D uras’ texts invite such practices and W illis’ own readings exploit them , m ore theoretical discussion in this regard seems called for. M arguerite Duras: Writing on the B ody does not offer itself as an exhaustive study of an authorial output—hence chronology and them atics are scrupulously avoided—but as a com plex and thought-provoking reading o f a problem atic o f im portance to feminist theory, as a reading of a textual body that is exemplary as site o f both feminine writing and of self­ erasure. D a v id W il l s Louisiana State University R alph Sarkonak. C l a u d e S i m o n : L e s c a r r e f o u r s d u t e x t e . T oronto...


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pp. 110-111
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