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Segal, H. (2001). Le Génie féminin: Volume II—Melanie Klein: Julia Kristeva. Paris: Fayard. 2000. Pp. 397.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(2):401-405.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(2):401-405

Le Génie féminin: Volume II—Melanie Klein: Julia Kristeva. Paris: Fayard. 2000. Pp. 397. Language Translation

Review by:
Hanna Segal

Julia Kristeva is a very well-known and prolific writer. She is a psychoanalyst and writes about psychoanalysis but she is knowledgeable and interested in all the human sciences, such as philosophy (her main interest I think being in semiology), literature, art and sociology. One could put it that she is interested in the human mind in all its manifestations. One of her particular interests is psychoanalysis in relation to culture—both the culture in which psychoanalysis grows and by which it is inspired and, conversely, the impact psychoanalysis has made on the culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (and the role of women in this process).

Melanie Klein’ is the second volume of a three-part series entitled Le Génie féminin—a title that is not easy to translate. In her introduction to the first volume (1999) she tries to define genius in its two meanings: one that was developed in the Renaissance and is in common use, which is the genius of an individual—‘x or y is a genius’. The other meaning is more ancient and more vague. It is the genius of a group or culture—its pervading inspiration and mythology—and she poses the question that she says she leaves open (though in fact it is clear throughout the book that she actually has a firm conviction about it) on whether there is such a thing as a specifically feminine genius. Kristeva also gives some idea of what she means by a person being a genius.

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