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Read the guide. Your reading intentions are private to you and will not be shown to other users. What are reading intentions? Here's an example of what they look like: Your reading intentions are also stored in your profile for future reference. How do I set a reading intention To set a reading intention, click through to any list item, and look for the panel on the left hand side:. You were a Communard! The General you named had your husband and son shot! How can you grieve over them? They let the people of Paris starve; they oppressed and wronged the poor.

Thanks be to God, I stood upon a barricade; I loaded the gun for my menfolk! But all the same, Mesdames, I shall not go back to Paris, now that those people of whom I have spoken are no longer there. They had been brought up and trained. I could make them happy. When I did my very best I could make them perfectly happy.

To mourn the loss of this society and of her position as a culinary genius within it would be to express her love for those who murdered her husband and son and wronged the poor. Devouring Loss 33 A different conflict inhibiting mourning affects Martine and Philippa. Who could want to bereave him of them? And the fair girls had been brought up to an ideal of heavenly love; they were all filled with it and did not let themselves be touched by the flames of this world.

In order to satisfy their desire to be faithful to him, therefore, they must deny their worldly desires. Denying these desires means also denying that the desires have been frustrated, that a loss has been suffered. The result is a silencing of the language of desire and loss, and a blocking of their ability to mourn.

His shameful defeat in love thus challenges his identity as a brave and knowing soldier, and he responds by removing from language any admission of his loss. It may be read as a means of mourning what she herself has lost. Enacting such a commemoration would first necessitate properly burying her dead, something Babette could not do before fleeing France. If Babette is pleased to learn that a general who lived for several years in Paris will attend the dinner, it is because he represents for her the aristocracy she trained to appreciate her artistry and because his presence will help complete her re-creation of France in Berlevaag.

The burial itself is accomplished through the preparation of the meal and, specifically, through the main dish Babette cooks: Cailles en Sarcophage—Quail in Sarcophagus. While one might argue that it is hardly surprising Babette would choose to serve the dish for which she was famous in Paris, the narrative underscores the acute significance of her choice in the explicit parallels it draws between birds and people.

The quail Babette brings from France, kills, and then meticulously entombs in their sarcophagi are not just birds, but her loved ones. The quail function as the fleshly embodiment of her husband, her son, the French aristocracy, and her cherished life in France. At the same time, the preparation of the cailles functions as an initial step toward articulating her loss in language. In cooking the dinner, in other words, Babette performs the triple role of a great chef, a gifted mortician, and a knowing doctor.

Indeed, the sarcophagi she prepares convey the message that the dead are not just to be buried, but must be consumed for her remedy to work. It is a text that cryptically tells of the need to bury the dead in such a way that they can be psychically devoured and digested and hence transformed into a tomb or memorial to their own disappearance: into a monument—which is what a sarcophagus, with its embellishing sculptures or inscriptions, is— that marks their absence and that not only permits, but also invites the memorialization or recollection of their presence in and through language.

The turtle soup thus combines with the Cailles en Sarcophage and the Veuve Clicquot champagne to tell the tale of how healthy digestion of a loss is to proceed and of how memory of the loss may be constructed and rendered palatable. Through her entombment of the dead and her psychic ingestion of them via the congregation , this culinary magician has performed a temporal shift. She has traveled mentally back in time to the moment, twelve years earlier, when she first suffered her loss and was unable to mourn.

It is not an act of selflessness, but of self-rescue and selfpreservation. It is an act of survival. The end of the story suggests that Babette will indeed survive and may ultimately thrive. These changes do not mean that Babette will henceforth be immune to feelings of loss, longing, and sadness. On the contrary, she will now mourn normally; she will spend years, perhaps the rest of her life, slowly digesting and making a part of herself the shame and loss she has suffered.

While doing so, however, she will be able to live and find pleasure in the present and move forward in life. She has become a sarcophagus of sorts, a living tomb who carries within her the trace or inscription of an unspeakable loss she can now recall and mourn at will. Devouring Loss 39 The narrative makes clear that this process of ingestion marks the beginning of mourning and involves the conversion of a loss into language.

A humiliating event he has kept secret for thirty-one years is now put into words. His fear of the dean, which had dissuaded him from pursuing Martine, is voiced, albeit discreetly, for the first time. He forgives himself as the young Lorens, who trembled and lost a beloved. He grants amnesty to the dean, who had dominated the dinner conversation long ago and prevented him from expressing his love for Martine. And he implies that what had been lost has now been recovered, through language, as that which can be mourned.

You know, do you not, that it has been so? For tonight I have learned, dear sister, that in this world anything is possible. He will spend the remainder of his days reliving this dinner as the main ingredient of his introjective process. I will live my days adjusting and enlarging my spiritual or psychic being, through my memory of ingesting this meal, so as finally to digest and absorb your absence and make your memory an integral and savoured part of my life.

Upon hearing Babette finally give voice to her losses as a wife, a mother, and a great chef following the dinner, Philippa finds her own silenced voice through the words of Achille Papin: Philippa went up to Babette and put her arms round her. For a while she could not speak. I feel, Babette, that this is not the end. In Paradise you will be the great artist that God meant you to be! At the dinner, however, they begin to talk with each other. It would be a mistake, however, to think the congregants suffer in the same way as the others. The silence that gives way to their gift of tongues is not a symptom of suspended mourning.

The congregation, in other words, functions in the story as something of a Greek chorus that echoes the main theme of the conversion of suspended mourning into normal grieving, but only in its most basic notes or themes of silence giving way to speech, internal discord yielding to harmony.

That is, the feast is readable as the Last Supper if the latter itself is read as a trope of introjection, as a symbolic meal in which the physical ingestion of bread and wine figures the psychic swallowing and digestion of a lost beloved Christ. In this form, it is distinct from the Catholic Eucharist in which the bread and wine are believed to become the actual flesh and blood of Christ. The tale thus articulates a psychoanalytic aesthetic in which artistic production is readable as a symptomatic response to an unspeakable trauma that poses an obstacle to being, and as a performative attempt at self-cure that aims to overcome such an obstacle.

The creation of the feast as a work of art to be ingested, in other words, serves as both a telltale symbol of impeded mourning and as the means by which figuration, as the mode of surmounting that impediment, is reinstalled. The production of Devouring Loss 43 art makes possible the work of metaphor as both a figure and an instrument of introjection. Incorporation occurs in response to a narcissistic loss that cannot be articulated in language because the subject shares with the lost object a shameful and therefore unspeakable secret whose revelation threatens to annihilate them both.

The structure of the crypt simultaneously prevents the psyche from integrating the loss and thereby potentially disintegrating the subject , protects the secret from exposure, and maintains the fictitious integrity of the debased object, thereby allowing the subject to deny that a loss ever occurred. In incorporation, the words associated with the loss cannot be used figuratively to express or convert loss into language, as they are in normal mourning, since the tainted secret must not be shared in a communion of other mouths.

I will discuss a complex instance of incorporation and the rhetoric of demetaphorization and the crypt in the next chapter on Last Tango in Paris. This produces a sublime, uplifting affect, which announces the transcendence of a psychopathogenic trauma. Babette does not incorporate her loss as an unspeakable secret within an intrapsychic crypt.

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Rather, she suspends verbalization just as she herself is suspended in a metapsychological double bind between two incompatible alternatives of speech that render her acknowledgment of one part of her loss an implicit denial of the other part. This suspension does not lead her to avoid or void metaphor through a radical literalization of her trauma of loss. It prompts her instead to create a comestible artifact whose very ingestion gives itself to be read as a metaphor of introjection and whose readability as a trope unblocks speech and opens the way to the symbolization of loss.

Her artistic creation functions as the vehicle for a metaphorization of loss that has resisted language. It serves as a medium of figuration that gives voice to the unmourned, unstated grief that has effectively left her mute for twelve years and prevented her from living life as her own. Devouring Loss 45 This consumption, moreover, is not limited to the fictional characters of the narrative; it extends to larger sociocultural contexts as well.

While some diners may well have sought merely the pleasures of good food, others, I would propose, unwittingly yet happily paid dearly for an opportunity to mourn: for a chance to swallow or further digest the loss of their petite caille. For these consumers, watching the film and ingesting the dinner afterward was a therapeutic experience that afforded solace as much as pleasure.

The fact that the cost of these dinners, served by fine restaurants in cities around the country, was roughly equivalent to the cost of a psychoanalytic session in those same cities bolsters this conflation of the gastronomic and therapeutic. She died of emaciation in September As Karen Blixen, her pre-authorial self and owner of a coffee plantation in the British colony of Kenya, Dinesen suffered losses not unlike those of Babette.

She also lost her lover, Denys Finch Hatten, who died in a plane crash. Upon returning to Denmark, Dinesen suffered anguished feelings of loss and grief. One must have things at a distance. It seems to me that my films are all about finding the way out of this labyrinth, this chaos of politics and psychoanalysis. He finally tells her he loves her. She shoots him in the groin and kills him.

At first glance, there seems to be something post-coital, spent, politically unengaged about Last Tango in Paris. Critics who contended that the film was political cast its politics in sexual terms. Either the film was revolutionary because of its unsentimental, highly erotic depiction of unrestrained human desire.


I will argue in this chapter, however, that Last Tango is less about sex than about death. Or, rather, that sex functions as a symptom of an inability to psychically bury and mourn the dead. This inability to mourn has a public, political dimension, and not just a private, familial one. Revealing how the film conceals within itself these sociohistorical and political discourses hinges on close psychoanalytic reading, and on construing sex in the film as both a practice and a trope. And his story could be another oedipal projection—he feels, in a way, that he is as much the son of his wife as he is the father of the girl.

But this language, pace Bertolucci, is in fact intimately linked with death. After his wife of five years commits suicide in their Paris apartment, Paul, a middle-aged American expatriate played by Marlon Brando , embarks on a fierce sexual affair with Jeanne Maria Schneider , a French woman he encounters by chance. Not only does he forcibly sodomize her and make her penetrate him anally, but he taunts and demeans her Tortured History 49 Fig. Listen, I gotta get some mayonnaise for this because it really is good with mayonnaise.

And I want the pig to vomit in your face. And I want you to swallow the vomit. And then you have to go behind and I want you to smell the dying farts of the pig. My analysis begins by examining how sex functions in the film as a manifestation or symptom of an inability to psychically bury and mourn the dead. Last Tango in Paris is about blocked mourning and the formation of an intrapsychic crypt in which both the unburied dead and the unspeakable secrets preventing their interment are housed in perpetuity.

But this desire is repeatedly frustrated. Mourning— and being—remain impossible. He grunts like an animal when she asks his name, and he cuts her off when she starts to reveal hers and to talk about her life: No! No names here. I used to live on my luck—then I got married.

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My wife killed herself. But you know, what the hell. In fact, his entire relationship with Jeanne is marked by a total absence of any language expressing loss, an absence he fills with a relentlessly aggressive discourse about fornication and bodily functions. More precisely, it raises the possibility that the sadistic, carnal trysts Paul shares with a woman whose identity he refuses to know are in some way symptomatic of an inability to speak about and mourn his dead wife, and of the obstacles impeding his mourning process. A variety of intrapsychic configurations and pathological behaviors of differing degrees of severity can result.

Incorporation occurs when the subject harbors a secret concerning the lost object that is too shameful for words. The structure of the crypt protects the secret from exposure because it isolates it from the dynamic mechanisms by which the repressed typically returns from the unconscious. I would propose, correspondingly, that incorporation is analogous to a case of chronic indigestion that the subject disguises behind a voracious appetite.

This literal ingestion and expulsion involves a process of demetaphorization that subverts the metaphorical or symbolic dimension of language through which loss is normally converted into Tortured History 53 Fig. Last Tango in Paris : Paul speaks to Rosa as if she were alive words, shared with others, and thereby psychically assimilated. Like the caricature of a whore. For five years I was more a guest in this fucking flophouse than a husband, with privileges of course. And then. You cheap, goddam fucking, godforsaken whore. I hope you rot in hell! Because you lied. You goddam fucking pig fucking liar.

I have to find a way. Not only does Paul talk to Rosa as if she were alive, but he verbally assaults her. If he has psychically buried her alive, there must be some secret connected with her death, possibly tied to the issue of sexual performance or satisfaction, that is too shameful for words. It suggests that the secret he buries with his wife, and that prevents him from voicing his grief, involves something he cannot say about his sexual performance.

You concentrating? Did you come yet? How old were you? Then, angry because Paul Tortured History 55 does not seem to be listening to her, she lies down on the bed and masturbates. Watching her silently from a corner of the room, Paul begins to cry. The subject in effect undergoes a psychic split, suffering intensely but unable to grieve, since the crypt houses the lost object as alive and so conceals from the subject the loss to be mourned.

The subject, in other words, acts out compulsively, in displaced or camouflaged form, the very moment of being overwhelmed by sexual excitation in the unstated hope that this time the overflowing energy will be enough to revive the deceased, to bring back the lost love so that introjection can proceed.

The shame of this moment of delight, combined with his feelings of sexual inadequacy and culpability for her suicide, rendered the moment unspeakable. Guilty of an unexpected outpouring of love that was too much, too late, Paul encrypted the entire drama, burying Rosa alive with the secret of his crime.

His anonymous, depersonalized sexual trysts with Jeanne thus represent repeated stagings of this unspeakable moment involving his wife. They are fantasies of incorporation in which he unwittingly uses Jeanne, whose name and past he refuses to know, as an anonymous stand-in for Rosa and surrogate sex partner with whom he cryptically acts out simulacra of introjection: magical, hallucinatory moments of sexual adequacy that point to the drama of inadequacy and loss he cannot introject.

And then you know what happens when you die? I get to fuck the dead rat! Jeanne, so suggestible and compliant, is the perfect partner in this dance, steadfastly accompanying him until his very last performance of the drama that tortures him. The dimly lit dance hall and the expressionless faces, tightly bound hairstyles, and rigid movements of the women partners eerily echo the darkened room in which Rosa is laid out, her hair tied firmly in place, her face morbidly vacant. Last Tango in Paris : the vacant faces of the tango dancers can thus be viewed as yet another repetition of the inappropriate sexual eruption that intruded upon him when Rosa died.

It is the means by which he attempts to rejoin and recover her. Psychically unable to accommodate the loss of his wife, Paul destroys himself in one last attempt to give of himself completely so as to satisfy and thereby revive her exquisite corpse. In a final fantasy of incorporation, he tries to bring Rosa back to life by joining with her in death. Moments later he pushes his way into her apartment, tells Jeanne he loves her, and says he wants to know her name. The neurosis is produced when the parent is unable to transcend an obstacle to her or his own introjective processes.

My mother was very—very poetic, and also a drunk, and my memories about when I was a kid were of her being arrested nude. We lived in this small town, farming community. There was a farmer. And I used to make bets with myself when it was going to fall off, and I always lost. I never saw it fall off. And then we had a beautiful—well, my mother, my mother taught me to love nature. And, uh, I guess that was the most she could do.

There is not enough evidence in the film to identify this trauma with certainty. His mother would have responded to this in a conflicted manner, thereby obstructing the normal introjection of his psychosexual desires. This conjecture is supported by the fact that the bathtub, throughout the film, is a signifier of the repetition of untoward events. We need not look outside Last Tango, however, for another film that suggests a repressed or encrypted parental relationship lies embedded in the story.

Tom and his crew accompany Fig. As he films her looking through photographs and notebooks and reminiscing about her dog, schoolmates, and teachers, Tom stops to set up another shot. Reverse gear. You understand? Like a car. You put it in reverse. Close your eyes, put it in reverse. Come forward, come forward backing up.

Jeanne: Papa. Jeanne: In full dress uniform. Overcome the obstacles. Jeanne: Papa in Algeria. Tom: Tell me about your father. Jeanne: I thought we were finished. Tom: Five minutes. Tom: Yes, yes, but the colonel! The colonel! I loved him like a god, Papa. He was so handsome in his uniform. Paul: In English What a steaming pile of horseshit! Jeanne: In French I forbid you! My father was a drunk, tough, a whore-fucker, bar fighter, super-masculine, he was tough.

My mother was very—very poetic, and also a drunk.

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Where Tom fails miserably at getting Jeanne to talk about her father, her resistance melts in the immediate cut to the next scene when she eagerly tries to share with Paul what she refused to tell Tom. Paul, however, will hear none of it. While Tom tries to be a psychoanalyst and fails, Jeanne makes no attempt to function analytically toward Paul but in some way succeeds; she induces him to talk. This idea is in fact represented on screen, even before the film proper starts, in the title sequence. A man in white underclothes lies on a red divan in a room with yellow walls and a green floor, his head turned slightly to his left, one arm over his head and one leg bent.

There we see a woman in a white jacket and brownish skirt, seated on a wooden chair, looking off to her left with her arms and legs crossed. As the credits on the left side end, the first painting reappears in their place and both portraits occupy the screen, side-by-side for several seconds, as the sequence concludes.

Bertolucci himself has commented on the significance of these two paintings, recounting how he took Marlon Brando and his cinematographer, Vittorio Storaro, to a Bacon exhibition in Paris just prior to the start of filming. The apartment in which Paul enacts his illness of mourning with Tortured History 65 Fig. Last Tango in Paris : overhead dolly shot descending on Paul Fig. With the two Bacon pictures on screen side-by-side, Bertolucci cuts to an overhead dolly shot that descends on Paul from behind.

In fact, throughout the film the noisy passage of the metro and frequent descending camera shots serve as a basso continuo, underscoring the looming presence of the intrusive libidinal excess that has traumatized Tortured History 67 Fig. Last Tango in Paris : Jeanne as a blank screen or transference object Fig. Last Tango in Paris : receding pillars with Jeanne positioned as the analyst him. After the train passes, Paul walks along the bridge, bearing an anguished expression, as we see Jeanne for the first time in the distance, walking up behind him, wearing a white coat and dark brown hat figure 2.

The camera in front of Paul holds them both in view as she walks past him, turns briefly to look at him figure 2. Paul, lost in his own world, does not see her look at him. With her coat and hat linking her to the white coat and dark brown walls in the Rawsthorne portrait, Jeanne thus moves from the position of the interpreting analyst to that of the analyst as transference object.

Moments later, when the two meet in the apartment and Paul takes Jeanne sexually, he pins her up against its beige walls and white curtains. It is as if he were hanging her on the wall, like some blank canvas on which to transfer and display the unspoken sagas perturbing him, in the unstated hope of seeing and comprehending them. Transference reactions are of course at the core of the psychoanalytic process. The analyst, in classical terms at least, functions as a blank screen on whom the analysand unconsciously displaces fantasies, affects, defenses, and the like that are derived from relationships to significant others from the past.

In a classical analysis, the analyst assumes a transparent, neutral stance toward the analysand in order to facilitate or catalyze the transference. Once unconscious transference elements emerge or are acted out in the session, they can be interpreted and worked through so that their intrusive, inappropriate repetition can be recognized, controlled, and eventually arrested. Metaphorically speaking, we can say that the psychoanalyst engages in a constant back and forth oscillation.

Whereas we see her move from the position of an unseen viewer behind Paul to a position in front of him as a screen for his transference reactions, she never moves back behind him—either literally or figuratively—either in the opening sequence or any other time in the film, to the position of interpreter or analyst.

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When Paul makes Jeanne penetrate him anally, he does of course position her behind him. And worse. And worse than before. It is an intimately psychological style of acting that involves learning techniques for evoking emotional memories of actual experiences that the actor can use to construct a character. As the method actor par excellence, Brando thus functions in Last Tango as a signifier of the analysand enacting a transference.

Not only is she ill-equipped to respond to his need, but she reveals that she herself has something to say. He followed me on the street. He tried to rape me. He wanted to rape me. Je ne connais pas son nom. Je ne sais pas qui sait. Il a voulu me violer. Je ne sais pas. Je ne le connais pas. Her disaffected, obsessive account to some- Tortured History 71 one out of sight could be the discourse of an analysand on the couch speaking to an unseen analyst. But what does Jeanne need to narrate and understand? It may be the story of her own inability to mourn and bury a saga involving her father, an army colonel who lived and served in Algeria.

Her almost dissociative discourse could thus refer not only to Paul but to her father, and to an unspeakable secret of rape, attempted rape, or sexual molestation by a man she thought she knew, but really did not. That is, if Jeanne refers in her monologue to the man she shot as a stranger, and thus as someone other than Paul, it is possible that Paul, like her father, is not dead for her. Her dissociated gaze and speech raise the possibility, in sum, that she does with Paul what Paul has done with Rosa and his mother. She buries him alive, along with the unspeakable secret of their sadomasochistic idyll, inside a crypt: a crypt that is perhaps already inhabited by her father and the unspeakable secrets of childhood violations.

Some critics, perhaps resonating unconsciously with this inequality although not addressing incorporation or pathological mourning , have faulted Bertolucci for making Jeanne too submissive and lacking in agency.

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A little old, but full of memories, eh? Mademoiselle, how do you like your hero? Over easy or sunny-side up? You ran through Africa and Asia and Indonesia. And I love you. I wanna know your name. And who pulls the trigger? Seen from this perspective, Jeanne is readable as the embodiment of a certain bourgeois French colonial mentality that sought to thwart the independence movement and keep Algeria French.

He also assumes the role of the Algerian insurgents who resisted French sovereignty. He becomes a figure of the destabilizing other who threatened to turn the rule of colonial empire—and not just eggs—upside down. In this last sequence of the film, then, Paul, the American in Paris, ironically becomes the Algerian in France: he mocks and challenges the power of colonial domination, only to be crushed by the French colonizer figured by a pistol-packing Jeanne. The departments of Algeria are part of the Republic; they have been French a long time. Between [the Algerian population] and mainland France there can be no conceivable secession.

This collection of essays provides students of literary critical theory with an introduction to Freudian methods of interpretation, and shows how those methods have been transformed by recent developments in French psychoanalysis, particularly by the influence of Jacques Lacan. It explains how classical Freudian criticism tended to focus on the thematic content of the literary text, whereas Lacanian criticism focuses on its linguistic structure, redirecting the reader to the words themselves.

Concepts and methods are defined by tracing the role played by the drama of Oedipus in the development of psychoanalytic theory and criticism. The essays cover a wide generic scope and are divided into three parts: drama, narrative and poetry. Each is accompanied by explanatory headnotes giving clear definitions of complex terms. Stuckness in the Fiction of Mervyn Peake.


Book Mervyn Peake has been acclaimed as an author of fantasy and as an illustrator, but as yet has received little attention from literary critics. This book is the first to analyse all of Peake's works of fiction, including his two picture story books and novella as well as the Gormenghast series and Mr Pye. Alice Mills pinpoints the fictional quirks that render Mervyn Peake such a memorable fantasy writer, examining his literary works from Jungian, Freudian, Kristevan and post-Jungian perspectives.

Stuckness in the Fiction of Mervyn Peake will be of interest to fantasy lovers and students of fantasy as a genre, as well as those exploring the psychoanalysis of literary texts. Simon O. Karam Nayebpour. George Eliot is known for her psychoanalysis of the majority of her characters in her literary works. She shows how their unsympathetic workings cause private and collective tragedy by the end of narrative.

The novel has frequently been acclaimed by critics and readers alike. However, this book presents a re-evaluation of the text with the help of terminologies borrowed from cognitive narratology in order to shed new light on the significance of one-track minds in this narrative. The book explores the mental functioning of the individual fictional minds, and examines how different modes of mental activities influence the interpersonal relationships between and among the characters.

Accordingly, the study argues that the main cause of tragedy in The Mill on the Floss stems from at least two factors. First, the central fictional minds primarily function on the basis of their self-centered thoughts and emotions, over which they usually do not have control. Similar ebooks. Unspeakable Secrets and the Psychoanalysis of Culture. Esther Rashkin. Esther Rashkin argues that psychoanalysis galvanizes, as no other discipline can, an understanding of texts in their social, historical, and political contexts.