Cover

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Title Page

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p. iii

Copyright

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p. iv

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-viii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-x

This book has taken some while to come to fruition. Its planning and writing covers a period that includes my move from England to America. During the early stages I spent an enlivening two semesters in 1996–1997 as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Vanderbilt University...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-22

What moves the argument of this book is the thought that unacknowledged suffering is the remnant of freedom in conditions of late modernity. This is Kristeva’s thought. . . . Let me begin again by outlining this project’s three major objectives. The first is to explicate the central psychoanalytic, aesthetic...

PART I: From the Revolutionary Standpoint to the Nihilism Problematic

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CHAPTER 1: The Early View of Psychoanalysis and Art

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pp. 25-53

This chapter gives an account of Kristeva’s early thought as it appears in her doctoral thesis of 1974.1 Revolution in Poetic Language contains the only lengthy explanation of her fundamental categorical distinction between the semiotic and the symbolic. Many commentators therefore make reference to it...

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CHAPTER 2: Primary Narcissism

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pp. 55-77

Kristeva’s three works, Powers of Horror (1980), Tales of Love (1983), and Black Sun (1987) compose a trilogy with a vision and project in common. There is a change in mood in these works—a departure from the revolutionary standpoint—that has led some to the view that Kristeva has betrayed...

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CHAPTER 3: Abjection

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pp. 79-93

I am arguing that Kristeva’s profound exploration in the 1980s trilogy of the structure of narcissism in the trials of individuation contains an exploration of the problem of nihilistic modernity. From the perspective of the strictly psychoanalytic level of her writing, we discover that this is a condition in...

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CHAPTER 4: Primal Loss

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pp. 95-111

Black Sun unfolds the third moment of Kristeva’s triadic structure of narcissism: primal loss. Further discussion of this topic, in chapters 6 and 8 below, argues that Kristeva’s thinking on loss reveals the widest implications of her thought on psychoanalysis, religion, art, and sexual difference. The aim of...

PART II: Religion and Art

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CHAPTER 5: The Powers and Limitations of Religion

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pp. 115-142

Chapters 2-4 have shown the appearance of the nihilism problematic in the strictly psychoanalytic level of Kristeva’s writing in each book of the 1980s trilogy. Her interrogation there of the suffering subjectivity that shows up in psychoanalytic experience suggests that psychoanalysis is witness to a weakening...

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CHAPTER 6: The Kristevan Aesthetic

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pp. 143-166

This chapter is dedicated to elucidating the meaning of the aesthetic in Kristeva’s 1980s trilogy. As will become clear, the meaning of the Kristevan aesthetic must be garnered from her concrete and fine-grained analyses of artworks themselves. The discussion, here, is restricted to her analyses of Holbein...

PART III: The Social and Political Implications of Kristeva’s Thought

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CHAPTER 7: Ethics and Politics

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pp. 169-215

Given the presence in the trilogy of the problem of modern nihilism, it is surprising when Kristeva proceeds directly to draw out the social and political implications of her thought in terms of models that psychoanalysis provides for ethical and political relations. This has led many to mine her project for a...

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CHAPTER 8: Kristeva’s Feminism

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pp. 217-266

What is Kristeva’s feminist thought? There is no book on feminism like the one on ethics, nor any collection of feminist writings like that on the contemporary nation. Insofar as Moi’s Kristeva Reader (Kristeva 1986) remedies this situation it then seems unrepresentative of the oeuvre as a whole. There are...

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CONCLUSION

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pp. 267-275

This book has stressed that Kristeva’s thought on psychoanalysis, religion, and art, especially as it is developed in the 1980s trilogy, is vital for grasping the significance and scope of her project. It has also suggested that when she proceeds to draw out the social and political implications of the psychoanalytic standpoint...

NOTES

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pp. 277-286

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 287-294

INDEX

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pp. 295-309