Women Writers You Should Know About #14
‘We should write as we dream; we should even try and write, we should all do it for ourselves, it’s very healthy, because it’s the only place where we never lie.’
~ Hélène Cixous
Hélène Cixous is a French feminist writer, poet and professor. Considered by many one of the foremost writers in poststructuralist feminist theory, Cixous posited a theory that our sexuality is absolutely tied to the way we interact with others in society.
Cixous was born on the 5th June 1937 in Oran, French Nigeria and began her writing career by studying English literature, with a particular focus on James Joyce. She published her first novel, the semi-auto-biographical Dedans (‘Inside’) in 1969 and has built a wide portfolio of work including twenty-three volumes of poetry, six collections of essays and five plays, alongside numerous articles whose influence still resonates. She worked closely with the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida who, like Freud and Rimbaud, had enormous influence on her writing. In turn, Derrida vaunted Cixous as the greatest living writer in the French Language.
“Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself. Your body must be heard.”
~ Hélène Cixous,
Cixous’ most influential work, ‘Le rire de la méduse’ (Trans. The Laugh of The Medusa) is a call to arms for women to engage fully with their own bodies and use these experiences to push social reform. The article is a mix of prose and poetry and inspires women to become activists and control their own destiny.
Hélène Cixous is currently a Professor at the European Graduate School in Switzerland and at the University of Paris VIII – the first university in Europe to open a center for women’s studies – founded by Hélène herself.
(n.b. Apologies for this belated post – we’ll be back to publishing this series on Wednesdays as from next week.)