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Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing$
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Celia Britton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380369

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380369.001.0001

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Discursive Agency and the (De)Construction of Subjectivity in Daniel Maximin's L'Île et une nuit

Discursive Agency and the (De)Construction of Subjectivity in Daniel Maximin's L'Île et une nuit

(p.89) 6 Discursive Agency and the (De)Construction of Subjectivity in Daniel Maximin's L'Île et une nuit
Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing

Celia Britton

Liverpool University Press

At the intersection of postcolonial and feminist theory, much has been written on the discursive agency of postcolonial women in fiction and autobiography. A humanist model emphasizing lack of self, ‘voicelessness’ and ‘coming to voice’ has been to some extent superseded by a poststructuralist approach, itself modified to allow for agency: a subject constructing herself in discourse by exploiting the divisions within the plurality of discourses that especially characterizes postcolonial or creolized societies. But Maximin's novel, with its male author and female protagonist, conforms to neither of these models: rather, it shows an ‘empty’ female subject transforming lack and loss into lightness and mobility and thus a positive form of resistance. Having nothing means having nothing to lose, and you survive the hurricane by letting it blow through you. This conception of subjectivity evokes Lacan's aphanisis: a ‘flickering’ presence, slipping from one anonymous pronoun to another and hollowed out by the eye of the hurricane boring into her like the Lacanian gaze.

Keywords:   Daniel Maximin, Jacques Lacan, postcolonial theory, feminist theory, poststructuralist theory, discursive agency

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