A Dialogue of voices : feminist literary theory and Bakhtin by Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich; Wussow, Helen; Hohne, Karen

By Bakhtin, Mikhail Mikhaĭlovich; Wussow, Helen; Hohne, Karen Ann; Bakhtin, M

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M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Helene Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 91. Subsequent quotations from this essay are cited by title and page number in the text. 20. Although a good case can no doubt be made for the misogyny of the originals, I think that is another question altogether. 21. Cixous suggests here that what has always been "suspected" about women is true: they do take on an "intrinsic value" when pregnant, even, and perhaps especially, in their own eyes.

Yeats's early project had been the formation of Irish patriots through a poetics of desire for the free nation, imagined as a woman. As heir to the long generic confusion between the Virgin and the Beloved that originated in troubadour love poetry, however, Yeats envisaged such desire as ungratified except in death. "17 This idealization of the unattainable female and sublimation of sexual into political desire persisted in Irish cultural consciousness long after the need for it had disappeared with the establishment of the Irish Free State.

This is a typical and very strongly expressed grotesque. It is ambivalent. It is pregnant death, a death that gives birth. There is nothing completed, nothing calm and stable in the bodies of these old hags. They combine a senile, decaying and deformed flesh with the flesh of new life, conceived but as yet unformed. Life is shown in its two-fold contradictory process; it is the epitome of incompleteness. And such is precisely the grotesque concept of the body. (25-26) The ambivalence of the figure centers, for Bakhtin, not on the female grotesque, but rather on the aging body.

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