Journal of Romance Studies

The folly of gender: gender as trouble in Violette Leduc’s L’Asphyxie

Journal of Romance Studies (2004), 4, (2), 55–66.

Abstract

Existing scholarship on Violette Leduc’s 1946 novel L’Asphyxie has been dominated by either psychoanalytic or feminist approaches, or, in some cases, attempts to combine the two. It is my contention that the debate between psychoanalytic and feminist readers over the extent to which the text supports or subverts Freudian psychoanalytic models of the maternal-filial relationship have tended to obscure the trope of sex and gender. In this article, I offer a new reading of Leduc’s text in the light of the work of Judith Butler, exploring the theme of ‘gender as trouble’ and the extent to which maternal cruelty in the text can be accounted for by appealing to the specific forms of power relations that work to block the proliferation of gender identities.

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Dow, Suzanne