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Jean Rhys pp 81-101 | Cite as

Voyage in the Dark: ‘Two Tunes’

  • Sylvie Maurel
Chapter
Part of the Women Writers book series (WW)

Abstract

If the figures of the law are systematically debunked, so is another set of rules, language itself. Voyage in the Dark and Good Morning Midnight, each in a different way, build a code of feminine resistance to linguistic authority which simultaneously probes into the locus of the feminine. Both seem to define the feminine as a subversive force waging war against the master discourse. Jean Rhys develops an ethics of subversion akin to that which underlies Kristeva’s linguistic theory: for Julia Kristeva, the feminine can simply be defined as ‘that which cannot be represented, what is not said, what remains above and beyond nomenclatures and ideologies’. According to her, femininity, regardless of biological categories, is but one form of marginality among many and can be analysed as any other struggle against a centralized power structure. From the margin, then, Jean Rhys develops signifying structures other than those provided by consensual discourse which, as we have seen, tend to obliterate the truth.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Julia Kristeva, ‘La femme, ça n’est jamais ça’, Tel Quel, no. 59 (Fall 1974), translated into English in Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron (eds), New French Feminisms (Brighton: Harvester, 1980), pp. 134–8.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Julia Kristeva, La Révolution du langage poétique (Paris: Seuil, 1974)Google Scholar
  3. Toril Moi (ed.), The Kristeva Reader (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), p. 94.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Toril Moi, Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (London: Routledgé, 1985), p. 162.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Deborah Kelly Kloepfer, The Unspeakable Mother: Forbidden Discourse in Jean Rhys and H. D. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989), p. 63.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Nancy R. Harrison, Jean Rhys and the Novel as Women’s Text (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), p. 58.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    See Jean Rhys, Letters 1931–1966 (1984; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), p. 149.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Ann Rosalind Jones, ‘Writing the body: Toward an Understanding of l’écriture féminine’ in Elaine Showalter (ed.), The New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women, Literature and Theory (London: Virago, 1985), p. 361.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Coral Ann Howells, Jean Rhys (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), p. 82.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    For a discussion of carnival, see in particular Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sylvie Maurel 1998

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  • Sylvie Maurel

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