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Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf$
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Ann Martin and Kathryn Holland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082624

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082624.001.0001

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Mystical Gibberish or Renegade Discourse?

Mystical Gibberish or Renegade Discourse?

Poetic Language According to Orlando

Chapter:
(p.196) Mystical Gibberish or Renegade Discourse?
Source:
Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Woolf
Author(s):

Christopher Brown

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780989082624.003.0025

This chapter explores how Virginia Woolf's Orlando refigures adult subjectivity by restoring the fluid dynamics of the semiotic chora to relationships, thus moving away from the patriarchal ordering of language that seems to haunt Julia Kristeva's approach to culture. In a biography of Melanie Klein, Kristeva defends psychoanalysis as “an ethics of subjective emancipation” that defies identity politics by recognizing the “sexual polymorphism” in all persons. The statement alludes to Kristeva's own concept of the semiotic chora, a “receptacle” of drives and affects that bond mother and infant prior to the Oedipal complex and the advent of subjectivity. The rest of the chapter discusses the configuration of repression and poetic expression in Orlando, and how the novel challenges the notion that sexual identity determines one's relation to an archaic maternal principle and reveals the contingency of Kristeva's formulation on a paternal model of culture.

Keywords:   culture, Orlando, subjectivity, semiotic chora, language, Julia Kristeva, repression, poetic expression, sexual identity

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