While Leo Bersani makes repeated stringent critiques of relationality and other-oriented sexuality, drawing on an array of literary examples including Gide, Proust, and Robbe-Grillet, he evinces a somewhat ambiguous relation to the question of sadism and to sadism’s inherent relation to masochism. Very similar notions of self-shattering not structured by the other, the world, or the couple are formulated by Gilles Deleuze in the late 1960s, but in this case as characteristics of Sadean demonstrative reason fully distinct from a psychoanalytic position that would insist on the relation between sadism and masochism. This missed connection between Deleuze and Bersani is broached through Deleuze’s reading of Michel Tournier’s rewriting of Robinson Crusoe.
eleanor kaufman is a professor of comparative literature and English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of Deleuze, the Dark Precursor: Dialectic, Structure, Being (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) and The Delirium of Praise: Bataille, Blanchot, Deleuze, Foucault, Klossowski (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).
Eleanor Kaufman; Sadism. differences 1 May 2023; 34 (1): 217–227. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-10435815
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