The Riddle of Racial Difference in Anne Garréta's Sphinx

Abstract:

This article examines Sphinx, the debut novel of the French novelist Anne Garréta, which was recently published in English translation in 2015. The reception of Sphinx in both French and English has focused primarily on Garréta’s virtuosic removal of gender from a love story, passing over a caricatural and crude rendering of racial difference that is at odds with the novel’s impelling ethos of “Fuck difference.” By attending to what Garréta describes as her debt to Monique Wittig, I show that Sphinx, far from being an exemplar of a second-wave feminism marked by a blindness to or instrumentalization of race, actually builds up racial difference as a Trojan Horse to combat difference in all its identitarian forms. Sphinx, in its radical anti-identitarianism, demonstrates the political potentiality of the novel form and challenges its readers to imagine an indeterminate existence outside all identity categories.
 

Runner up, Malcolm Bowie Prize

Last updated on 04/24/2018