Through a Textual Glass, Darkly: The Masochistic in the Feminine Self and Marguerite Duras' <em>Emily L.</em>

  • Raylene Ramsay Simmons College


This paper examines the inversions operated by proliferating specular images in Duras, seeking the meanings of Emily L.'s masochistic sacrifice of her poetry to her love for the "Captain." The Durassian subject takes form in the movement between looking and being looked at. Emily L., in her indecency and closeness to death, embodies the disturbing strangeness of the perverse desire of the watching narrator, Duras. The telescoping of the dichotomies of the fearful states at the origins of writing (self-loss in, or separation from, the other) also involves a movement between a "masculine" position of desire that seeks to kill and a "feminine" position excited by self-dispossession, a position problematically valorized in Emily
Original Research