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Kristeva Forgiveness

Kristeva Forgiveness

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Published by: Alex Klein on Mar 08, 2012
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Forgiveness: An InterviewAuthor(s): Julia Kristeva and Alison RiceSource:
PMLA,
Vol. 117, No. 2 (Mar., 2002), pp. 278-295Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 03/10/2011 12:05
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PMLA
theoriesandmethodologies
Forgiveness:AnInterview
Introduction
JULIA KRISTEVA
JULIA RISTEVAsalinguist,psychoana-lyst,criticalheorist,andnovelist.Shemoved to Paris romher nativeBulgariain1966 andbeganherprolificcareerwith contributionstoliteraryreviews,notablyTelquel,beforethe 1974publi-cation ofher monumentaldoctoral he-sis,Larevolutiondulangagepoetique(Revolutionn PoeticLanguage).Kris-tevateachesat theUniversitedeParisVII,whereshedirectshe doctoralpro-gramintextualstudies andthenewlyfoundedInstitutRolandBarthes.TheEnglishversionof the interviewstranslatedbyAlisonRice.Herranscrip-tion of theoriginalconversationbeginsonpage288.278
THISNTERVIEWITH ULIAKRISTEVA,ONDUCTEDON 25 APRIL2000,FOCUSESONFORGIVENESS,TOPICTHATIS RECEIVINGconsiderableattention worldwide.1Numerous nations around theglobehaverecentlyextendedapologiestospecificgroupsofpeople, includingSouthAfrica,o victimsofapartheid;ritain,o the Maoripeople;Australia,to stolenaboriginalhildren;he UnitedStates,o NativeAmericans,apa-neseAmericans,and AfricanAmericans;ndGermany,ovictims of theHolocaust.This remarkablenternationalroliferationfrequestsorfor-givenessorwrongdoingand ofattemptso makeamends has notescapedtheattentionfprominentiteraryriticsndphilosophers.InFrance,cholarsrecognizeheimportancefforgivenessnotjustasa themeinliterature ndhistorybut also asa critical rameworkhroughwhichwecan viewthe modernworld.Suchdiverse vents as the admissionbyFrancehat t administeredorturenAlgeriand theUnitedStatespresi-dentBillClinton'sgrantingofquestionablepardonsat theclose of his sec-ond term in office have contributedoanongoingdiscussionofwhatforgivenessconsistsof,who canforgive,andunder whatcircumstancesforgivenessan occur.Kristeva'sommentsonforgivenessanthereforebeseen aspartof thecurrentxplorationfthetopicinFrance. aulRicoeurecently ublishedLamemoire,'histoire,'oubli"Memory, istory,Forgetting'),nencyclopedicworkon theproblematicelationsofhistory,memory,andjustice.He de-votesalong epilogueto"pardonifficile,"hehardshipofreconcilingwiththepast;Ricoeureeks todistinguishbetweenthecriminalnd thecrime,betweenorgivenessandforgetting.n hisanalysis,we shouldnotforgetacrimebut shouldforgivehepersonwhocommittedt.This sa distinctionthatotherscholarshavecarefullystablishedswell,ncludingKristeva.2PardonndrepentancewerethefocusofJacquesDerrida'seminaratthe Ecoledes HautesEtudesn SciencesSocialesrom1997to2000.Derridahasformulateddefinitionfforgivenesshattakesintoaccounttspreva-lencen Christianountriesandhas beenespeciallyttentiveotheincreas-
?2002 BYTHE MODERN LANGUAGEASSOCIATIONOF AMERICA
 
JuliaKristeva279
ingnumber fpublicpologiesncountriesforeignto theJudeo-Christianradition. omeofhissignif-icantreflections n thetopicwerepublishedntheform of aninterview,Leiecleetlepardon""TheCenturyndForgiveness"),n 1999.AresponsetoDerridaythesociologist EdgarMorinpresentsaverydifferentthical ndrationalointofview.3Kristeva raws fromsome ofDerrida'sub-lishedstatementsinformingheropinion;inre-sponseto what sheperceivesobe his"utopian"vision,heinsists hatforgivenessmustbe limitedotheprivatephereof humannteraction. hesocialarena swhereriminalsmustbetriedandpunishedfor theiractions.WhileKristevaoes notexplicitlyaddress hewidespreadoldingofpublicribunalsthatseekto cometo termswithroublesomepasts,sheiscertainlypeakingnthiscontext.hemakestclearwithrespectto theHolocausthat criminalscan beforgiven,utonlyaftertheyhavemaderepa-rations,xpressedremorse,ndindicateddesiretotransformhemselvesndbeginagain.ForgivenessasplayedaconspicuousroleinKristeva'sliteraryriticism,romherstudyofFyodorDostoevsky'sovelsinher bookonmelancholynWesternculture,Soleil noir:Depressiontmelan-colieBlackun:DepressionndMelancholia),o herreflectionnjudgmentand time inher recentvol-umeHannahArendt.Thesewosubstantialworks,writtenvertenyearsapart,pproachorgivenessfromdifferentangles.Kristeva'surrentopinionsonthetopicarethusinformedbyherfamiliarityiththeChristianhemes ofDostoevsky'snovelsandwith heJewishraditioninfluencingrendt'sphilo-sophicalhoughtbutattest oKristeva'sknowledgeofpsychoanalysisndsemiologyaswell.Kristevaikenshepsychoanalyticureto theact offorgivenessnherstudyofArendt'swritings.Inthisfirstvolumeof atriptychn"women'sge-nius,"Kristevaarguesthatgivingmeaningbeyondthenonmeaningftheanguishedpatient'sraumaempowersthepatientobebornagain,ustas aforgiven ubjectindsnew lifeandstartsoverfol-lowingapardon.InLarevoltentime(IntimateRevolt),publicationoriginatingnherdoctoralcourseattheUniversite eParisVII,Kristevamain-tainsthatforgivenesss not apsychoanalyticon-cept,butshedemonstrateshattheinterpretationinanalysiseffectivelyreatesasituationhat facili-tateshealingandforgiveness.Sheinsists thatherworkonmelancholynSoleilnoirhelpedhertosee theconnection betweenthisJudeo-Christiannotionanditscontinuation n thepsychoanalyticcure.4Herelaborations nthefollowingnterviewclearlyhowthat itwould bedifficultooveresti-matetheimportancefpsychoanalysisn herun-derstandingfforgiveness.ShortlyafterthepublicationofSoleilnoir,KristevagrantedthephilosopherOlivierAbelaninterview nforgiveness"Dostoievski').henter-view,nwhichAbelquotesextensivelyromKriste-va'sstudyofforgivenessnDostoevsky'swritings,waspublishedwitharticlesand otherinterviewswithcriticsikeJeanBaudrillardn acollectionde-votedtothequestionofforgivenesssameansofovercomingdebtandforgetting.Sincethis inter-viewappeared,n1991,Kristevaas addressedhetopicindifferentsettingsandfromavarietyfan-gles,but littleof theseproceedingshasbeenpub-lished. Inthefollowinginterview,IdrawfromcommentsKristevamade attworecentcolloqui-ums,wheresherespondedothecurrentntellec-tualdebateonforgiveness.alsoincorporateherperspectiven thematteras shedescribed t inapersonalpiecepublishedas a"journalntry"nthedailyFrenchnewspaperLiberation;hisreflec-tivecontributiononcentratesn the rolesofwrit-ingandlanguagen herownquestforforgiveness("Monournal").nmyquestions,herefore,refertoprintedandunprintedources inanefforttoelicitKristeva'suniqueperspectivenforgiveness.Sherespondsbycombiningcomplextheoreticalideas withpersonalanecdotesandexamples.While heinterviewoesnotfocus onparticu-larpoliticalituations,with heexceptionfseveralallusionsto theHolocaust,Kristeva'slaborationof herconceptionof"par-don"onethelesscarriesimplicationsor anumberofrecentproceedings.Herinsistenceonreservingforgivenessfortheprivatepheremightappearocontradictffortsto establishsomesort ofcollectiveforgiveness.
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