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Fictionalising Trauma

The Aesthetics of Marguerite Duras’s India Cycle

Sirkka Knuuttila

With Marguerite Duras being the most disputed French artist after World War II, symbolising trauma represents the most problematic crux of contemporary trauma research. This book brings together these troublesome issues by way of integrating Duras’s aesthetics and the challenge of working through major historical trauma. Starting from the concept of an embodied mind as developed in current social neuroscience, the study illuminates the stylistic devices of the famous India Cycle that arose from Duras’s relentless struggle with the trauma of French colonialism. It reveals how converting trauma into fiction can become a powerful emotional strategy for surviving traumatic events, which may provoke necessary changes in our cultural memory through collective sharing.

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Table of Contents

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Preface ............................................................................................................ 7 Acknowledgements ....................................................................................... 9 Abbreviations ................................................................................................ 13 Introduction .................................................................................................. 15 Articulating the India Cycle through Trauma ................................................ 17 Reading Colonial Trauma: A Cognitive Approach ........................................ 22 On Duras’s Cyclic Aesthetics ......................................................................... 30 Narrativising Trauma: The Dual Nature of Traumatic Memory ................... 37 The Outline of the Study ................................................................................ 43 I. Memory, Discourse, Fiction: The Birth of the Absent Story ................ 47 On Duras’s Critical Working-Through ........................................................... 51 Between Melancholy and Mourning: L’affection intentionnelle .................... 58 Dismantling Literality .................................................................................... 64 II. The Aesthetic Strategies of the India Cycle .......................................... 69 Repetition: Paralleling Analogical Structures ............................................... 74 Doublings, Homologies, Reversals ......................................................... 79 Romantic Formula: Contamination and Multiplication ......................... 83 Metafiction and Testimony: Possible Worlds ................................................. 86 Breaking Frames, Creating Fictional Worlds ......................................... 90 Accessing Trauma through Narrative Holes .......................................... 96 The Traumatic Index ...................................................................................... 99 Literality and Affectivity as Powers of Change ..................................... 104 III. Witnessing Trauma: Writing the Novel – Writing the Self ............... 113 Jacques Hold and Western Subjectivity: Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein ..... 117 Re-enacting Suffocated Love ................................................................. 124 Peter Morgan and the Ethnic Other: Le Vice-consul ..................................... 132 Interconnected by Differences: ‘Morgan’ .............................................. 135 Between Mimicry and Mirroring: the Double Beggar .......................... 144 6IV. Modifications of the Madwoman Trope ............................................... 153 Obsession in the Provincial Prison: Lol V. Stein ........................................... 157 Rebuilding the Triangle, Renouncing Progress ...................................... 162 Sorrow in Exile: The Cambodian Beggar ...................................................... 169 Bodily Suffering as a Mode of Resistance ............................................. 174 Towards Forgetting and Freedom ........................................................... 179 In the Madwoman’s Land: L’amour ................................................................ 184 Towards an Allegorical Interpretation .................................................... 188 A Universe of Despair: The Perpetrator’s Return .................................. 191 Refiguring Lost Emotions: Love as Care ............................................... 195 V. Crime in the Salon: The French in British India .................................. 203 Calcutta:...

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