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«Obscene Fantasies»

Elfriede Jelinek’s Generic Perversions

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Brenda Bethman

This book examines Elfriede Jelinek’s investigation of Austria’s and Western Europe’s «obscene fantasies» through her «perversion» of generic forms in three of her best-known texts ( Die Liebhaberinnen, Lust, and Die Klavierspielerin). Each chapter investigates a central psychoanalytic concept (alienation, jouissance, perversion, and sublimation) and reads a Jelinek text in relation to the genre that it is perverting, exposing the «obscene fantasies» that lie at its heart. This book argues that the disruption of genres is one of Jelinek’s most significant literary contributions, with her works functioning to create a «negative aesthetics» as opposed to a positive reworking of generic forms.

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Acknowledgements .................................................................................... ix List of Abbreviations .................................................................................. xi Introduction ........................................................................................ 1 Chapter One: Housewife or Shop Girl? Alienation and (Anti-) Romance in Die Liebhaberinnen ................................................................ 8 “Sexuality is to Feminism What Work is to Marxism”: Alienated Sexuality and/as Labor ........................... 10 Limitations to a Marxist/Socialist Feminist Analysis .............. 26 Lacanian Alienation and Metonymy .......................................... 28 “Reading the (Anti-) Romance”: Die Liebhaberinnen and the Romance Novel ..................................................................... 34 Chapter Two: A Jouissance Beyond the Phallus? Lust and Pornography ............................................................................................ 43 An Artistic Anti-Pornography? .................................................. 43 The Misfortunes of Justine and Gerti: Reading Jelinek with Sade ..................................................................................... 49 Female Sexuality and Jouissances ............................................ 63 A Pessimistic Pornography Without Pleasure .......................... 71 Chapter Three: Portrait of the Artist as a (Not-So) Young Pervert: Pianos, Perversion and Sublimation in Die Klavierspielerin ............... 74 The Androgynous Piano: Women’s Piano Playing as Feminine and Masculine ............................................................ 76 Excursus: Clara S. ...................................................................... 82 The Piano and Erika’s Sexual Position ..................................... 85 Sublimation and Perversion: Die Klavierspielerin as Anti-Künstlerroman .................................................................... 91 Notes ........................................................................................................... 101 Introduction ............................................................................... 101 Chapter One .............................................................................. 102 Chapter Two .............................................................................. 106 Chapter Three ........................................................................... 110 Bibliography ............................................................................................... 115 Index ............................................................................................................ 133

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