cover image Inside


Helene Cixous, Author Schocken Books Inc $14.95 (136p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4019-1

Through thick veils of opaque, incantatory prose, fragments of the narrator's life emerge in this cryptic novel, winner of the Prix Medicis in 1969, by a French feminist and critic. The title tells it all: from beginning to end we are locked inside the mind and memory, dream-life and fantasy of the narrator as she mourns the untimely death of her venerated father. So submerged are the other charactersher brother, her hated mother, whom she refers to remotely as her father's wife, ""the woman with the white arms,'' as if she were not relatedthat they never assume distinctive identity. The slender volume plays theme and variations on a single motifthe young girl's overwhelming, exclusive worship of her father, an engulfing emotion part oedipal, part religious, an adoration of the saint she takes him to be. Her father ``replaces God''; he is the man ``whom the whole universe cannot replace . . . my father, my only love.'' Obsessed with the idea of death, she strives to liberate herself from the past, to achieve some kind of autonomous life. But she writes the ``language of the soul,'' and the soul's language, in this instance, is often turgid, dense and self-enamored. (November)