Birthmarks (Given Names)

Elissa Marder

in The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780823240555
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240593 | DOI:
Birthmarks (Given Names)

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This chapter explores three recent fictional texts by Hélène Cixous (Or: Les lettres de mon père, Osnabrück, and Les Rêveries de la femme sauvage: scènes primitives) and shows how she invents, discovers, and uncovers a forgotten, primal language that lies embedded within the French language through acts of naming and un-naming. The literary readings in the chapter call attention to the way that Cixous gives birth to new poetic, political, social, and familial relations by opening the French language up to foreign elements of all kinds. For her, words come “before” the beginning; writing itself begins in the name. Like the well-spring of words from which writing draws its source, the name is never “proper”: each name that gives birth to writing calls the other into being in the act of naming. All of Cixous's writings (albeit each uniquely and in its own singular idiom) bear the mark of this “original translation” and are born from it. All are signed with this primal “Birthmark.”.

Keywords: Hélène Cixous; My Father's Letters; Osnabrück; Wild Woman; translation; primal scenes; Fips; Algeria; names

Chapter.  6668 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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