Jean Rhys pp 102-127 | Cite as

Good Morning Midnight: ‘Every Word I Say Has Chains Round its Ankles’

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


In Good Morning Midnight, Jean Rhys’s fourth novel published in 1939, dissent is manifested in a different way. While Anna in Voyage in the Dark tried to assert the existence of an alternative signifying mode, Sasha Jansen, a more experienced heroine, chooses controlled, parodic mimicry of the master discourse. Mimicking the mimicry imposed upon woman, she tries to undo the effects of patriarchal logic by overdoing them. Sasha is a middle-aged woman returning to Paris for a short holiday. She too is an outsider but, unlike the other heroines who go to great lengths to voice their difference, Sasha is intent on hiding it. One of the figures of this deliberate obliteration of difference is the novel’s concern with intertextuality. This concept, coined by Julia Kristeva, refers to the ways in which any literary text is inseparably linked to other literary texts. Drawing upon Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism, Julia Kristeva argues that ‘any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another’.1


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  1. 1.
    Julia Kristeva, Word, Dialogue and Novel in Toril Moi (ed.), The Kristeva Reader (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), p. 37.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Autodiegetic: a type of narrative ‘where the narrator is the hero of his narrative’. See Gérard Genette, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980), p. 245.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), p. 333.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Philippe Hamon, Introduction à l’analyse du descriptif (Paris: Hachette, 1981), p. 52.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms (New York: Methuen, 1985), p. 33.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    Antoine Compagnon, La seconde main ou le travail de la citation (Paris: Seuil, 1979), p. 23.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Helen Carr, Jean Rhys (Plymouth: Northcote House, 1996), p. 80.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    Quoted in Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), p. 46.Google Scholar

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© Sylvie Maurel 1998

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  • Sylvie Maurel

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