Becoming Bertha: Virtual difference and repetition in postcolonial 'writing back', a Deleuzian reading of Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea

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Abstract

Critical responses to Wide Sargasso Sea have seized upon Rhys's novel as an exemplary model of writing back. Looking beyond the actual repetitions which recall Brontë’s text, I explore Rhys's novel as an expression of virtual difference and becomings that exemplify Deleuze's three syntheses of time. Elaborating the processes of becoming that Deleuze's third synthesis depicts, Antoinette's fate emerges not as a violence against an original identity. Rather, what the reader witnesses is a series of becomings or masks, some of which are validated, some of which are not, and it is in the rejection of certain masks, forcing Antoinette to become-Bertha, that the greatest violence lies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-41
JournalDeleuze Studies
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Keywords

  • Caribbean literature-20th century-History and criticism
  • Deleuze, Gilles
  • Postcolonialism in literature
  • Jean Rhys
  • Continental philosophy
  • Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Difference and Repetition
  • Writing back
  • Becoming

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