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The Speaking Divine Woman

López de Úbeda’s "La Pícara Justina</I> and Goethe’s" Wilhelm Meister</I>


Patricia Zecevic

Drawing on the Spanish Kabbalah’s account of the divine speaking Woman, analysed in terms derived from contemporary feminist stylistics – especially the speculative-cum-theological variety associated with Luce Irigaray’s work – this study examines the problem of female self-presentation in two novels from quite different cultural periods and national literary contexts. The study concludes that the two works participate in the long history of kabbalistic-hermetic reflexion on the nature and status of the Divine Feminine and its expression in language. The deft deployment of current French feminist thinking to elucidate both the theme of the Divine Feminine and the stylistic resources available for formal female self-expression not only sharpens our perception of what is being articulated in the novels themselves. It opens up a remarkably illuminating historical dimension stretching back to the origins of Kabbalah, in which contemporary feminism finds its place.
Contents: The crystallization of the Great Goddess tradition in the Spanish Kabbalah: the Shekhinah as the (female) voice of God – Goethe's life-long interest in the divine feminine – Luce Irigaray's interest in a specifically female mode of language and in the possibility of a feminine mystical theology – The problem of female self-presentation as embodied in the (aesthetic-poetic) language of female characters in L. de Úbeda’s La Pícara Justina (1605) and Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister (1795-1829) – History of kabbalistic-hermetic reflexion on the divine feminine and its expression in language.