Marguerite Duras's 1962 theatrical adaptation of Henry James's short story offers a feminist alternative to Eve Sedgwick's famous interpretation. The precise elements that for Duras reveal James's interest in “feminine” forms of expression also are significant for queer theoretical readers, after Sedgwick, who emphasize James's style rather than his biography. However, in none of those recent discussions do notions of temporal or stylistic queerness in James's work resonate with the ideas about gendered time and language that are central to Duras's approach, and to twentieth-century French feminism more generally. Duras's adaptation, grounded in heteronormative assumptions, suffers from a parallel blind spot; James Lord, her collaborator in the project, suggests that she undermined the queer elements in both James's story and his own first draft. This article uses the unexamined resonances between Duras's and Sedgwick's readings to offer a possible counter-narrative to ongoing scholarly divisions among contemporary feminisms and queer theories.
Kathryn Wichelns; Collaborative Differences: Marguerite Duras, Eve Sedgwick, and “The Beast in the Jungle”. Comparative Literature 1 March 2015; 67 (1): 79–93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-2862033
Download citation file: