Body work: objects of desire in modern narrative
The desire to know the body is a powerful dynamic of storytelling in all its forms. Peter Brooks argues that modern narrative is intent on uncovering the body in order to expose a truth that must be written in the flesh. In a book that ranges widely through literature and painting, Brooks shows how the imagination strives to bring the body into language and to write stories on the body. From Rousseau, Balzac, Mary Shelley, and Flaubert, to George Eliot, Zola, Henry James, and Marguerite Duras, from Manet and Gauguin to Mapplethorpe, writers and artists have returned in fascination to the body, the inescapable other of the spirit. Brooks's deep understanding of psychoanalysis informs his demonstration of how the "epistemophilic urge"--the desire to know-guides fictional plots and our reading of them. It is the sexual body that furnishes the building blocks of symbolization, eventually of language itself-which then takes us away from the body. Yet mind and language need to recover the body, as an other realm that is primary to their very definition. Brooks shows how and why the female body has become the field upon which the aspirations, anxieties, and contradictions of a whole society are played out. And he suggests how writers and artists have found in the woman's body the dynamic principle of their storytelling, its motor force. This major book entertains and teaches: Brooks presumes no special knowledge on the part of his readers. His account proceeds chronologically from Rousseau in the eighteenth century forward to contemporary artists and writers. Body Work gives us a set of analytical tools and ideas-primarily from psychoanalysis, narrative and film studies, and feminist theory-that enable us to read modern narrative afresh.
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Narrative and the Body
The Body in the Novel
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Balzac becomes bodily Bougainville Bouguereau Brissenden castration context created creation cultural curiosity Daniel Deronda Deronda discourse display Dora Dora's Editions du Seuil Emma's English trans erotic eroticism essay female body fiction field of vision Figure Frankenstein Freud gaze genitals girl Gustave Courbet Gwendolen human hysteria hysterical Jacqueline Rose Jacques Lacan L'amant Lacan language Laura Mulvey looking lover Lucien male mark meaning melodrama metaphor metonymical modern Monster naked Nana narrative narrator nature never nineteenth century novel nude nudity object of desire observation painting Paris passage passion Paul Gauguin phallic phallus Philippe Aries pleasure realist relation representation represented Revolution Roland Barthes Rousseau Sacred Fount sans-culottes scenario scene scopophilia semiotic sense sexual signifier social Standard Edition story suggests symbolic symptoms Tahiti Tahitian tradition ultimately University Press Venus visual William-Adolphe Bouguereau woman woman's body women writing York Zola Zola's