Carin Franzén NSU abstract

Carin Franzén

Linköping University



Duras and the art of the impossible


Marguerite Duras’ writing is constituted by a paradox. Throughout her work a prerequisite for her writing is said to be the impossibility of telling her story, the story of her life. In our own time, when intimacy is exposed and made public by the immediacy of new media practices, it is astonishing to return to Dura’s self writing. In my paper I will try to relate her negative affirmations, i.e. “The story of my life does not exist. It does not exist” /”L’histoire de ma vie n’existe pas. Ça n’existe pas” (L’Amant 1984, 14), to her necessity to write, which she also underlines in almost all her books, as in her last diary (C’est tout 1999) where writing actually is said to be her life. I will more precisely try to demonstrate that the relation between the impossibility to tell the story of her life and the necessity to keep on writing, or the metamorphosis of life into writing, which seems to be Duras’ destiny, is a very good illustration of a more general impossibility. In fact, I will argue that Duras’ writing, which has been described as marked by a feminine desire (Cixous) or a feminine melancholia (Kristeva), is a fascinating form of arrangement in order to represent the un-representable. The point of departure for my reflection on this more general impossibility in Duras’ art of writing is taken from Lacan: “the ways of the subject passes between two impossible walls”/”le chemin du sujet passe entre deux murailles de l’impossible” (Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la pasychanalyse. Séminaire XI, 1973, 152). If the reel constitutes one wall the other is the impossibility of drive fulfillment.

Franzén is Professor of Language and Culture at Linköping University. A central aspect of her research focuses on the relation between literary configurations, subjectivity and hegemonic structures in modern as well as premodern literature in a European tradition. She is a member of the editorial boards of Aiolos. Tidskrift för litteratur, teori och estetik and Divan Tidskrift för psykoanalys och kultur.