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Antinucci-Mark, G. (1999). Julia Kristeva: Speaking the Unspeakable: Anne-Marie Smith. London: Pluto Press. 1998. Pp. 110. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 80(5):1057-1058.

(1999). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 80(5):1057-1058

Julia Kristeva: Speaking the Unspeakable: Anne-Marie Smith. London: Pluto Press. 1998. Pp. 110

Review by:
Giuseppina Antinucci-Mark

In Julia Kristeva: Speaking the Unspeakable, Anne-Marie Smith, who teaches literary translation at the Université de Paris VIII, gives a critical introduction to Kristeva's oeuvre. She proposes two clear and definite hermeneutic keys, consisting in a close reading and translation of the texts and a reflection on psychoanalytic theory as essential for comprehending and evaluating Kristeva's work.

The author does not purport to give the reader an exhaustive account of Kristeva's work over thirty years, but rather to address the issue of the fortune of her thought within the Anglo-American world. She depicts the impact of the Kristevan texts upon the English-speaking readership as a mixture of fascination, seduction and estrangement, rooted in profound and irreducible cultural differences between France, Britain and America.

This divergence is epitomised in the difference between the French féminin, meaning ‘that which belongs to women’ and the English feminine, which connotes culturally imposed gender attributes. Kristeva's preoccupation is with the representation of the féminin, as the ‘maternal continent’ and the Anglo-American feminists attack her for not being separatist enough, ultimately showing a profound misunderstanding of the continuity of her thinking within the tradition of Freudian psychoanalysis.

This is another significant difference between the two cultural traditions. In France Freudian thought is very alive indeed, re-examined and reelaborated by not only the psychoanalytic community, but the intellectual world at large, whereas beyond the Channel Freud is customarily attacked and vilified.

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