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Writing Size Zero

Figuring Anorexia in Contemporary World Literatures


Isabelle Meuret

Like hysteria, anorexia is a fin de siècle pathology which fascinates and has reached epidemic proportions at the turn of the millennium. Parallel to the development of the phenomenon, an important body of experiential texts has revealed its presence in various parts of the world. While the medical discourse is still struggling with this conundrum, literature gives way to different interpretations by revealing the interconnectedness between writing and starving. Both signifying practices are experiences of the limit where fluxes of particles – food, words – are in constant interaction. Unlike most contemporary readings of anorexia, this book offers an original insight into the creative process inherent to the pathology, which the author calls Writing Size Zero. Body of writing and writing of the body, as found in western and post-colonial texts, delineate an in-between space producing new epistemologies. Through a close reading of the semiotics of self-starvation, the author debunks the myth of anorexia as a mental disease of the West and insists on the variety of expressions and figurations inherent to the pathology. By providing a meaning to self-starvation, writing gives anorexia its ethics.
Contents: Figurations vs. representations of anorexia – Anorexia in contemporary world literatures – Starving and writing – Anorexia in western and post-colonial texts – Creative process and pathologisation – The birth of the author and the ethics of anorexia – Subjective experience of anorexia in experiential texts.