P/Reparation: Barthes and Sedgwick

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This article highlights peculiar affinities between Roland Barthes’ last works, particularly his seminars on La Préparation du roman, and the later work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Barthes and Sedgwick reflect on attachments that exceed the boundaries of genealogical affiliation (both familial and intellectual); in turn, they foster similarly queer attachments in their readers. Both draw on the theories of Melanie Klein to reflect on love, mourning, fantasy, and their link to creativity differently, through an alternative to Freudian models of Oedipality and sublimation. The Kleinian concept of reparation, where powerlessness in the face of loss is lucidly acknowledged but simultaneously transformed into an impetus for creative work, infuses the later works of both critics. I observe that these parallel critical trajectories share a fantasized, avowedly fictional ‘mother’, who also worked in the shadow of loss: Marcel Proust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalRomance Studies
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
  • Marcel Proust
  • Melanie Klein
  • Roland Barthes
  • queer filiation
  • reparation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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