"Ô popoï, popoï, popoï": breathless sobs, displacement, and Parisian cartography in Sarah Kofman's "Rue Ordener Rue Labat"

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

There is now a significant body of psychoanalytical and philosophical studies of Sarah Kofman’s autobiographical text Rue Ordener Rue Labat, published in 1994 just six months before the author’s suicide. Many would see Kofman’s suicide as a direct consequence of her “public act of mourning” (Lars Iyers), showing the “dangers of testimony” (Rachel Rosenblum) and Kofman’s inability in the end to use art as a “transport-station of trauma” (Bracha Ettinger). Yet critics such as Rachel Rosenblum and Sara R. Horowitz have convincingly shown that Kofman never in fact stopped speaking of her experience of the loss of her father in Auschwitz and her tormented tortuous relationship during the Occupation of France towards her two mothers, even if some critics find Kofman’s positions on survival philosophically untenable (Eilene Hoft-Mensch). While Rosenblum, however, speaks of a “cartography of writing” in Kofman, she tends to reduce this trope to a question of style. Rare are the readers such as Verena Andermatt Conley of Kofman’s compellingly painful text who raise the question of the role geography and space play in Kofman’s “working through” of her trauma. This essay explores in more depth the question of Parisian cartography and its intimate relation to the expression of Kofman’s breathless sobs in order to show the displaced issues at work in her text.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShadows in the City of Light
Subtitle of host publicationParis in Postwar French Jewish Writing
EditorsSara Horowitz, Amira Bojadzija-Dan, Julia Creet
PublisherState University of New York Press
Pages45-58
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781438481753
ISBN (Print)9781438481739
StatePublished - 2021

RAMBI Publications

  • RAMBI Publications
  • Kofman, Sarah -- Rue Ordener, rue Labat
  • Autobiography
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- France -- Paris -- Personal narratives
  • Memory -- Psychological aspects
  • Geography -- Psychological aspects
  • Paris (France)

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