‘Are you weaker than a woman, weaker even than a mother?’ : Abjection and Infanticide in Dead Europe and Drift

THIS account of reactions to Christos Tsiolkas's Dead Europe is typical of the novel' s reception. Commentary on Dead Europe, as with Loaded and The Jesus Man, has either explicitly referred to Julia Kristeva's discussion of abjection or, as in Padmore's essay, conjured the experience ofabjection itself. For Kristeva, abjection is 'The repugnance, the retching that thrusts me to the side and turns me away from defilement, sewage, and muck ... The fascinated start that leads me toward and separates me from them' (2). It is the subject's reaction when confronted with the fragility of the boundaries by which it has defined itself. To discuss Dead Europe with Brian Castro's Drift, I return to Kristeva's claim that abjection is always rooted in our relation to the mother. She explains that abjection preserves, 'the immemorial violence with which the body becomes separated from another body in order to be' (10).

The full text of this essay is available to ALS subscribers

Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.

Not a member? Subscribe now from only $24/year

Published 1 October 2007 in Volume 23 No. 2. Subjects: Abjection, Contemporary literature, Infanticide, Motherhood.

Cite as: Van Den Berg, Jacinta. ‘‘Are you weaker than a woman, weaker even than a mother?’ : Abjection and Infanticide in Dead Europe and Drift.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23, no. 2, 2007. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.7d435e84bd.