The Day I Wasn't There
Helene Cixous Northwestern University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PQ2663.I9J6913 2006 | Dewey Decimal 843.914
In this memoir-novel, a narrator who resembles Hélène Cixous obsessively recounts an incident--the premature death of her first-born child, a Down Syndrome baby left in the care of the clinic in Algeria where her midwife mother works. She uses this event to probe her family history and her relationship with her mother, a refugee from Nazi Germany; her dead father, after whom the baby is named; and her medical-student brother, who takes on some of the duties of a father figure.
Cixous's elusive writing bears all the trademarks of her poetic, provocative style, vivid with word play, intense feeling and a stream-of-consciousness that moves freely over time and place. The narrator's mother claims not to remember what happened, and the brother tries to fill in some gaps in the story. By the end of the book we understand the significance of the title: one day Cixous's mother returned to the clinic to find the baby on the brink of death. Rather than attempt to save him she chose to end his suffering.
By closing the door to the imaginary clinic at the end, the narrator at last resolves the feelings of guilt and realizes that each human being has a fate they must endure. Informed by psychoanalytical theory, and always brutally honest, The Day I Wasn't There is above all an intimate study of a woman's inner landscape.
First Days Of The Year
Helene Cixous University of Minnesota Press, 1998 Library of Congress PQ2663.I9J6813 1998 | Dewey Decimal 843.914
Newly Born Woman
Helene Cixous University of Minnesota Press, 1986 Library of Congress HQ1208.C5913 1986 | Dewey Decimal 305.4
Published in France as La jeune née in 1975, and found here in its first English translation, The Newly Born Woman is a landmark text of the modern feminist movement. In it, Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément put forward the concept of écriture feminine, exploring the ways women’s sexuality and unconscious shape their imaginary, their language, and their writing. Through their readings of historical, literary, and psychoanalytic accounts, Cixous and Clément explore what is hidden and repressed in culture, revealing the unconscious of history.
All the time when I lived in Algeria, my native country, I dreamt of one day arriving in Algeria.
Born in Oran, Algeria, Hélène Cixous spent her childhood in France's former colony. Reveries of the Wild Woman is her visceral memoir of a preadolescence that shaped her with intense feelings of alienation, yet also contributed, in a paradoxically essential way, to her development as a writer and philosopher.
Born to a French father and an Austro-German mother, both Jews, Cixous experienced a childhood fraught with racial and gender crisis. In her moving story she recounts how small events--a new dog, the gift of a bicycle--reverberate decades later as symbols filled with social and psychological meaning. She and her family endure a double alienation, by Algerians for being French and by the French for being Jewish, and Cixous builds her story on the themes of isolation and exclusion she felt in particular under the Vichy government and during the Algerian Civil War. Yet she also concedes that memories of Algeria awaken in her a longing for her home country, and ponders how that stormy relationship has influenced her life and thought.
A meditation on postcolonial identity and gender, Reveries of the Wild Woman is also a poignant recollection of how a girl's childhood is, indeed, author to the woman.
The Third Body
Helene Cixous Northwestern University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PQ2663.I9T713 2009 | Dewey Decimal 843.914
In The Third Body, the poet, novelist, feminist critic, and theorist Hélène Cixous interweaves a loose narrative line with anecdotes, autobiography, lyricism, myth, dream, fantasy, philosophical insights, and intertextual citations of and conversations with other authors and thinkers. Cixous evokes the relationship of the female narrator and her over, a relationship of alternating presences and absences, separations and rejoinings. This relationship assumes protean forms within a complex web of writing, creating a "third body" out of the entwined bodies of the narrator and her lover.