0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2014
Kristeva's point of departure from the conventions of the European canon of literature and linguistics. Applying the theory she first outlines in a Revolution of Poetic Language, to a non-European culture, to which she feels an ethnic affiliation, Kristeva explores the cultural forms of matrilineal society which led to the textual structures of semiotic-symbolic function. The suggestion that the tonal phonological structures of Chine speech more effectively encrypt the pre symbolic subjectivity of mother-infant dialogical reciprocity. The calligraphic traditions too are thought to offer a different syntactic order from those of the monological and monotheistic Western tradition of textuality. Brilliantly, sensitively developed, her expanded theory of culture includes anthropological perspectives on gendering of work in pre historic agricultural society, the technical innovations derived from the 'domestic', as well as the more linguistic analysis which characterise her earlier work. Evident is a psychoanalytic intelligence which intuits affective and unconscious subjectivity as generative of culture, not merely reflective of society. Whilst empathising with a proletarian revolution from cultures of near slavery, Kristeva does not offer any simplistic economic determinism of culture. Very different from the Parisian neo-Orientalists of the sixties which idealised either pre-revolutionary Eastern mysticism, or Maoist modernist principles, this is a feminist theory which replaces fantasy with respect. Continued in her work on Woman's Time and in her psychoanalysis of gender and the pre-Oedipal..
14 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2002
Kristeva's early masterpiece that helped to solidify her reputation in the early 70s as a masterly leftist feminist can now be reread as indicative of the Orientalism of the Paris of the 1970s in which Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Philippe Sollers, and many others championed Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. This revolution of the Parisian letters of the 1970s has now become a powerful wing of what is euphemistically called Cultural Studies, but which is actually a branch of Mao's Cultural Revolution, being played out today in almost every institution of higher education in America.
This book is the purest Orientalism of the kind that Edward Said complains about. She actually argues that because the future is so bright after the Cultural Revolution that the possibilities are unlimited.
It shows the left's prophetic powers in retrospect.