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Restuccia, F.L. (1998). Conjurings: Mourning and Abjection in Story of O and Return to the Château. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(2):123-153.

(1998). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(2):123-153

Conjurings: Mourning and Abjection in Story of O and Return to the Château

Frances L. Restuccia, Ph.D.

The local thesis of my essay is that O and its sequel are the literary products as well as representations of a daughter's masochistic incorporation of a mother—a possession previous to the advent of subjectivity, a “primal” repression installed prior to ego formation. But even as the essay concentrates on two novels, it is meant to demonstrate the rich analytical results of acknowledging the desire—or more accurately, the masochistic jouissance of a woman—embedded in what has been taken to be merely patriarchal pornographic discourse. I am, in fact, interested in using Story of O, as well as its sequel, as the paradigmatic literary text for female masochism, just as Venus in Furs is regarded as the paradigm for male masochism in the work of Gilles Deleuze.

I try to follow Joan Copjec's injunction to analysts of culture, as I state in the essay's final paragraph, that we “become literate in desire” by showing how writing of abjection performs the hard work of mourning for a lost maternal Thing. Kristeva's Powers of Horror is the dominant theoretical text in my piece. “Conjurings” lays out the benefits of writing (in this case eroticized writing of abjection) as a means of completing a masochistic mourning process. Hence the title: which, as Derrida helps me to point out, refers to conjuring up in an effort to conjure-release.

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