Travel sickness: Marie NDiaye, Herv Guibert and the liquidation of the White Fantasy-Subject | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1368-2679
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9142


This paper considers some of the psychic and cultural implications of identity disintegration in works by French writers Marie NDiaye (born 1967) and Herv Guibert (19551991). In Guibert's (1992), the unravelling narrative (part-detective story, part postcolonial travelogue set in West Africa and the Caribbean) forces the European narrator's fantasy subjectivity apart, yanking him out of a zone of solidly racialised and sexualized privilege, and into a deathly exposure to blistering, sickly, post-white heat. In NDiaye's (2001), the eponymous French heroine, suddenly adrift with her provincial family in Guadeloupe, swings in NDiaye's bizarre narrative between exalted and desirable white-pink woman, and epically humiliated, liquidized, greyish mess. The ethnically inflected privilege of Guibert's and NDiaye's protagonists, seemingly so secure at the novels' outsets, comes apart at the seams in these narrative spaces of exception and singularity. The aesthetic and ethical implications of becoming-other and of shifting from crisply French (and human) to messily francophone (and barely human) are, in Guibert's and NDiaye's neo-colonial travellers' tales, anything but easily digestible, but nevertheless demand our rigorous critical interrogation.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): abjection; fantasy; HIV/AIDS; metamorphosis; neo-colonialism; projection; whiteness
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