"I used to feel guilty at night. I live in, I always used to live in two countries, the diurnal one and the continuous very tempestuous nocturnal one. . . . What a delight to head off with high hopes to night's court, without any knowledge of what may happen! Where shall I be taken tonight! Into which country? Into which country of countries?"—Hélène Cixous, from Dream I Tell You
For years, Hélène Cixous has been writing down fragments of her dreams immediately after awaking. In Dream I Tell You, she collects fifty from the past ten years. Cixous's accounts of her dreamscapes resist standard psychoanalytic interpretations and reflect her lyrical, affecting, and deeply personal style. The dreams, reproduced in what Cixous calls both their “brute and innocent state,” are infused with Cixous's humor, wit, and sense of playfulness.
Dreams have always been a crucial part of Cixous's writing. They are her archives and it is with them that she writes. Without dreaming, Cixous writes, “I would crumble to dust.” As in many of her other texts, Cixous's mother, father, daughter, and friends populate this work, which offers artistic and provocative meditations on the themes of family, death, and resurrection. Scenes of a daily life-getting a haircut, caring for her child, preparing for work-become beautifully and evocatively skewed in Cixous's dreams. She also writes of dreams, both amusing and unsettling, in which she spends an evening with Martin Heidegger, has her lunch quietly interrupted by a young lion, flees the Nazis, and tours Auschwitz.
The “you” of the title is fellow philosopher and friend Jacques Derrida, to whom these texts are addressed. The book reflects on many of the subjects the two grappled with in their work and in conversation: the deconstruction of psychoanalysis, literary production, subjectivity, sexual difference, and the question of friendship.
"Hélène Cixous has, among all her different sorts of genius, that of practicing, without exception, every kind of literary writing, from the critical or theoretical essay to the novel, to the tale, to the theatre in all its forms. We shan't even mention poetry, for poetry is her language's element, most general of all genres, at all times the generating force behind her work, whatever genre it may be in . . . I know of no more impressive and admirable example in the world of this kind of complicity, Hélène Cixous' indefatigable and unique translation of the infinite world, of all possible worlds of the nocturnal dream, into the incomparable vigilance of one the most calculating of diurnal writings." — Jacques Derrida, Geneses, Genealogies, Genres, and Genius
"Cixous writes in a direct, easy-to-read style that conveys her remarkable ability to hone in on significant details." — Library Journal
"Brief, glimmering, allusive texts, which constitute a gloriously subjective intellectual autobiography." — Publishers Weekly
Hélène Cixous is professor of literature at the Université de Paris VIII. She is the author of Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing (both published by Columbia University Press), and other works of fiction, essays, and plays. Beverley Bie Brahic is a translator and poet living in Paris. She is the translator of Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint.