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Skinning the Fox: a Masochist’s Delight

  • Claude Sinzelle

Abstract

Barthes has compared the literary text to an onion with no core, no ultimate secret, but an infinite number of layers.1 Now, if ‘The Fox’2 has already been peeled like an onion, the skin of this animal remains rather puzzling. The heroine refuses to wear it. There is a gap here and this is where ‘the pleasure of the text’, however unwholesome it may be, is to be sought.3

Keywords

Modern World Good Mother Symbolic Order Oral Regression Iron Breast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975) p. 259.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    D. H. Lawrence, ‘The Fox’, Three Novellas (Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1982). All references in the text are to the Penguin edition of the works of D. H. Lawrence.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    ‘L’endroit le plus érotique d’un corps n’est-il pas ld oi2 le v@tement bdille?’ [Roland Barthes, Le Plaisir du Texte (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1973) p. 191.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Judith G. Ruderman, “The Fox” and the “Devouring Mother”’, DHL Review. x (1977) no. 251–69Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    H. M. Daleski, ‘Aphrodite of the Foam and The Ladybird Tales’, in D. H. Lawrence: A Critical Study of the Major Novels and Other Writings, ed. A. H. Gomme (Hassocks: Harvester Press, 1978) p. 154.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lawrence Jones, ‘Physiognomy and the Sensual Will in “The Ladybird” and “The Fox’. DHL Review. xii (19801 pp. 1–29.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    John B. Vickery, ‘Myth and Ritual in the Shorter Fiction of D. H. Lawrence’, Modern Fiction Studies,v (1959) pp. 80–2.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    5 December 1918 Letters, iii, D. 302.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Judith Ruderman (“The Fox” and the “Devouring Mother”’, pp. 258–9), refutes Vickery’s arguments using the references to Frazer to support the phallic interpretation. Another source for the fox’s burning tail and the corn might be the Old Testament: Samson, after being betrayed by Delilah, punishes the Philistines by setting fire to the foxes’ tails in order to burn their corn (Judges xv, 4–5).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Emile Delavenay, ‘D. H. Lawrence and Sacher-Masoch’, DHL Review, VI (1973) pp. 119–48; Gilles Deleuze, Prisentation de Sacher-Masoch - Le Froid et le Cruel; avec le texte integral de La V6nus a la Fourrure (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1967), trans. by Jean McNeil as Masochism: An Interpretation of Coldness and Cruelty (New York: George Braziller, 1971).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Delavenay, ‘D. H. Lawrence and Sacher-Masoch’, p. 121.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Edmund Bergler, The Basic Neurosis: Oral Regression and Psychic Maso-chism (New York: Grune & Stratton, 1949).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Edmund Bergler, ‘D. H. Lawrence’s “The Fox” and the Psychoanalytic Theory on Lesbianism’, in A D. H. Lawrence Miscellany, ed. H. T. Moore (London: Heinemann, 1961) pp. 47–53. Hereafter cited as Miscellany. Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bergler, Basic Neurosis, pp. 4–5.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ibid., vv. 237–42, esveciallv D. 239.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    CompletePoems, p. 63.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lawrence, ‘The Fox’, p. 116; Sons and Lovers (Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1962) p. 457.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    The shoe being ‘a symbol for the female genitals’ [Daniel A. Weiss, CEdipus in Nottingham: D. H. Lawrence (Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1962) p. 64]. See also Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, p. 152: ‘Mrs Morel was one of those naturally exquisite people who can walk in mud without dirtying their shoes. ... He ... thought them the most dainty boots in the world, and he cleaned them with as much reverence as if they had been flowers.’Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bergler, Basic Neurosis, p. 19.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ibid., p. 19 and p. 13.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ibid., P. 187.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    The ‘ffve-layer structure’ in Bergler’s article on ‘The Fox’ (Miscellany, pp. 51–2) includes the two superego vetoes. The basic lesbian structure has in fact three layers only. Cf. Bergler, Basic Neurosis, pp. 237–8: ‘The peculiar nature of the cllnical Lesbian conflict consists of the fact that a three-story structure is unconsciously erected: masochistic injustice collecting, warded off by pseudo-hatred, secondarily warded off by exaggerated pseudo-love towards a representative of the infantile image of the mother. ... Lesbians use the man-wife (father-mother) disguise as a covering defensive cloak.’Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    ‘In later years, the reproach of “starvation” is modified into that of being refused’ (Bergler, Basic Neurosis, p. 20). Bergler dispels a common misunderstanding by distinguishing sharply between the clinical pic-ture and the genetic picture of psychic masochism. The genesis of masochism is explained thus: the child wants to get, then he is refused or fancies that he is refused; he becomes all the more aggressive as his fantasy of omnipotence is challenged; then, if he is to become a masochist, because of his guilt he eventually turns his aggression against himself and derives masochistic pleasure from it (‘libidinisation’ of guilt). It is at this moment that the clinical picture starts: the superego ‘objects to this peculiar type of infantile pleasure’. As a result the ego creates ‘secondary defenses’ which constitute the ‘mechanism of orality’ (pp. 3–4). Injustice collectors ‘create or misuse’ situations in which somebody representing the oral mother refuses their wishes (p. 5). They themselves provoke ‘a situation of being refused’ (p. 12). Originally, every baby wants to get, not to be refused: ‘Nobody denies that oral neurotics were, once upon a time, babies who wanted to get. As adult neurotics they reproduce the situation ‘Bad mother refuses’. What they repress deeply is their masochistic enjoyment of that refusal’ (p. 8).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Bergler, Basic Neurosis, p. 3.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ibid.. pp. 9. 19–20.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ibid., vv. 12, 216.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Weiss, CEdipus in Nottingham, p. 40.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
  29. 29.
    Ibid., pp. 48–9.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Anecdote told by Cecily Lambert Minchin, the ‘original’ of Banford, in D. H. Lawrence: A Composite Biography, ed. Edward Nehls, vol. c (Madison. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. 1957) n. 465.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    beleuze, Presentation de Sacher-Masoch, p. 59(58). Page references to the American edition will be given in brackets after the references to the French edition.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ibid., pp. 57–8(57): ‘It would therefore be thoroughly misleading to confuse the phantasy that comes into play in the symbolic order and the hallucination that represents the return of reality as experienced in the order of the real. Theodor Reik quotes a case where all the “magic” vanishes from the masochistic scene because the subject thinks he recognizes in the woman about to strike him a trait that ren,indc him nf the father’ [Translation modified]Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ibid., p. 56(55). Translation modified. Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ibid., p. 49(49). Translation modified. Quoted by Delavenay, ‘D. H. Lawrence and Sacher-Masoch’. p. 138.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Deleuze, Presentation de Sacher-Masoch, p. 59(58).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ibid PP 45(45) 50(49)Google Scholar
  37. • •,, 37. Ibid.. o. 55(54).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    ibid n 47/4.91Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ibid.. v. 84(84). Translation modified.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ibid. Translation modified.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ibid., p. 87(86–7). Through a process of disavowal, ‘sexual pleasure ... is interrupted, deprived of its genitality and transformed into the pleasure of being reborn’ (ibid.). We shall see later that in masochism there is a twofold process of desexualisation and resexualisation. Without the latter the masochist would not experience any pleasure. But this resexualisation in the narcissistic ego has nothing to do with genital sexuality which is abjured. See ibid., p. 112(113).Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    II Corinthians xiz, 7. As in the story ‘The Thorn in the Flesh’, the i.awrentian hern finds his strength in his weaknessGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Deleuze, PrEsentation de Sacher-Masoch, p. 109(110). See also pp. 28–9 for a good study of the process of disavowal in fetishism.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    One finds in Masoch the Lawrentian myth of the North and the South, respectively associated with Christianity and paganism (ibid., 11 48(47))Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ibid. p. 110(111).Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Ibid., p. 109(110).Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Ibid., p. 110(111). Translation modified.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ibid.. o. 112(1131.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
  50. 50.
    Ibid., p. 47(46–7). My translation. J. J. Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht (Stuttgart: Krais & Hoffmann, 1861).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Delavenay, ‘D. H. Lawrence and Sacher-Masoch’, p. 148, n.53; Martin Green, The von Richthofen Sisters (London, 1974) pp. 81–4; James F. Scott, ‘Thimble into Ladybird: Nietzsche, Frobenius, and Bachofen in the Later Work of D. H. Lawrence’, Arcadia, xm (1978) pp. 161–76.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Myth, Religion, and Mother Right: Selected Writings ofJ. J. Bachofen, trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967) D. 97.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    D. H. Lawrence, ‘The Ladybird’, passim; Women in Love, esp. the passage about the ‘dark river of dissolution’, pp. 192–3; the passage about the swan in ‘The Crown’. Phoenix u, D. 403.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    ‘Aphrodite, the queen of the senses, she, born of the sea-foam, is the luminousness of the gleaming senses, the phosphorescence of the sea, the senses become a conscious aim unto themselves. ... But also there is the Aphrodite-worship. The flesh, the senses, are now self-conscious’ [D. H. Lawrence, Twilight in Italy (London: Heinemann, 1956) p. 35].Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    ‘She realized, almost with wonder, the death in her of the Aphrodite of the foam: the seething, frictional, ecstatic Aphrodite. . And there was no such thing as conscious “satisfaction”. What happened was dark and untellable. So different from the beak-like friction of Aphrodite of the foam, the friction which flares out in circles of phosphorescent ecstasy, to the last wild spasm which utters the involuntary cry, like a death-cry, the final love-cry’ [D. H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent (Harmondsworth, Middx: Penguin, 1961) p. 439].Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Daleski, ‘Aphrodite of the Foam’, pp. 155–6.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Lawrence, ‘The Ladybird’, p. 44, and the missing two pages of manuscript reproduced by Brian H. Finney in Review of English Studies, xxiv (1973) pp. 191–2.Google Scholar

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© Claude Sinzelle 1989

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  • Claude Sinzelle

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