Suicide-authors : a deconstructive study
The purpose of this thesis is to problematize the relationship between suicide and the author. On the basis of a deconstructive approach, it will study the effect of the self-inflicted death of the writer, namely the emergence of a dual figure, the "suicide-author". To deconstruct the suicide-author, this thesis will combine theoretical issues with examples taken from authors who killed themselves, including texts written by the suicides and by their survivors. Such texts will be referred to as "memorial texts" and will constitute a key element in the deconstruction of the figure of the author, namely his/her "posthumous persona". The thesis is divided into two parts. Part I, comprising the first three chapters, will propose an anti-teleological theorizing of suicide, followed by a study of the role of memorial texts in the deconstruction of the figure of the suicide author and a problematizing of Roland Barthes's concept of the "death of the author" in the context of the multiplicity of deaths of the suicide-author. In Chapter Two, the study of memorial texts will be developed in conjunction with analysis of selected examples, such as Yukio Mishima, Mario de Sa-Carneiro, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sergei Esenin, Raymond Roussel, Walter Benjamin, Anne Sexton, and Virginia Woolf. Also divided into three chapters, Part II is dedicated to an extended analysis of the thesis' case study, namely Sylvia Plath. Rather than focusing on Plath's suicide as an individual unique case, the second part aims at extending and complementing the discussion of the issues previously proposed. Of particular interest is the magnifying of such issues offered by the mythical aura of the Plath case. Chapter Four deals with the "voice of the other", the deconstruction of Plath's image by the living, including both those who had known her in person and the so called "anonymous witnesses" to her suicide, namely critics, journalists, et al. Chapter Five focuses on the "voice of the deceased", as emanating from Plath's writings. Finally, Chapter Six analyses the Plath-Hughes dialogue, with attention to Hughes's particular role in the deconstruction of her posthumous persona.