Julia Kristeva


Le grand livre de Julia Kristeva sur Thérèse d'Avila, Thérèse mon amour (Fayard 2008) vient de paraître en anglais chez Columbia University Press



Julia Kristeva Teresa my love

Translated by Lorna Scott-Fox

Columbia University Press, New York, 2014


Mixing fiction, history, psychoanalysis, and personal fantasy, Teresa, My Love follows Sylvia Leclercq, a French psychoanalyst, academic, and incurable insomniac, as she falls for the sixteenth-century Saint Teresa of Avila and becomes consumed with charting her life. Traveling to Spain, Leclercq, Kristeva's probing alterego, visits the sites and embodiments of the famous mystic and awakens to her own desire for faith, connection, and rebellion.

One of Kristeva's most passionate and transporting works, Teresa, My Love interchanges biography, autobiography, analysis, dramatic dialogue, musical scores, and images of paintings and sculptures to embed the reader in Leclercq's—and Kristeva's—journey. Born in 1515, Teresa of Avila survived the Spanish Inquisition and was a key reformer of the Carmelite Order. Her experience of ecstasy, which she intimately described in her writings, released her from her body and led to a complete realization of her consciousness, a state Kristeva explores in relation to present-day political failures, religious fundamentalism, and cultural malaise. Incorporating notes from her own psychoanalytic practice, as well as literary and philosophical references, Kristeva builds a fascinating dual diagnosis of contemporary society and the individual psyche while sharing unprecedented insights into her own character.


Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Shakespeare and Company, Paris, mai 2015


  Hail Teresa, borderless woman, physical hysterical erotic epileptic, made word, made flesh, who unravels inside and outside herself, tides of images without pictures, tumults of words, cascades of florescence, a thousand tongues listening out for whom for what, listening to time etched in stone, eardrum larynx cry out write out, night and brightness, too much body yet disembodied, beyond matter, empty gaping matrix throbbing for the Beloved ever-present and yet never there, but there's presence and presence, His in her, hers in Him, sensed felt buried, sensation without perception, dart or glass, pierced or transparent, that is the question, transverberated instead, and again inundated, La Madre being the most virile of monks, most canny of the herders of souls, a veritable twin of Christ, she is He, He is she, the Truth is me, or Him in the deepest part of me, me Teresa, a successful paranoiac, God is myself and what of it, what's the matter? A free-for-all, who can beat that ? Certainly not Schreber, not even Freud, awfully serious chap from Vienna, gloomy rather, a woman finds it easier to talk about these things, what things, well, her of course, her beside herself, obviously, in the throes of dread and delight, little butterfly expiring with indelible joy because Jesus has become it or rather her, butterfly-Jesus, woman-Jesus, I know someone who though she's not a poet composes poems without trying, novels that are poems with an extra something, extra movements, I wonder whether it is really I, Teresa, speaking, the path that is pain, the Nothingness of everything, that everything which is nothing, do what is in you to do, but gaily, be cheerful, my daughters, for twenty years I vomited every morning, now it's in the evenings and it's harder to bring up, I have to provoke it with a feather or some such thing, like a baby a baby girl if you prefer latched on to the Other's teat, mystic or is it spiritual marriage, young John of the Cross says there's a difference, I don't really see it, more like two sides of a coin, or like the Song of Songs, as always as ever she sings off-key but she writes true and carries on founding her convents, her girls, her Church, her own gestation, her game, a game of chess, games are allowed, oh yes, even in a cloister, especially in a cloister, God loves us to be playful, believe me, girls, Jesus loved women, what are the Doctors so scared of in us, yes, checkmate to God too, oh yes, Teresa or Molly Bloom, I am numb at last, I flow into the water of the garden, flow on by, all we do is feel pleasure, souls that love can see all the way into atoms, that's right, for yes is all there is to souls like mine, mine sees as far as the infinite atoms that are atoms of love, the philosophers don't have a clue, they become scholars, they recoil from your sensations, the best of them are mathematicians, tamers of infinity, and yet it's as simple as that, oh yes, metaphors mutating into metamorphoses, or possibly the other way around, oh yes, Teresa, my sister, invisible, ecstatic, eccentric, beside yourself in you, beside myself in me, yes, Teresa, my love, yes.


  Julia Kristeva

Teresa My Love




Julia Kristeva Teresa my love JK

JKristeva par Sophie Zhang

photo: S. Zhang




Teresa My Love




Teresa, My Love





   "Teresa, My Love is written with force, drive, and a verbal agility that carries the reader off and turns the book into a page-turner."


— Verena Conley, Harvard University





   "Julia Kristeva's psychoanalytic investigation of love leads her to the extraordinary case of Teresa of Avila, and to the "inoperable" rapport of desire and the need to believe. Kristeva remains faithful to psychoanalysis and to non-belief while offering this thoroughly engaging "imagined life" of Saint Teresa. It is of the greatest pertinence in a world that seems to have revived the need to believe in aggressive forms."


— Peter Brooks, Princeton University













Julia Kristeva à Roma Santa Maria della Vittoria

La Transfixion de Thérèse d'Avila par Bernini, à l'église Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome

photo: M. Donzelli








teresa my love

Teresa, My Love




Abbreviations and Chronology


Part 1: The Nothingness of All Things

1. Present by Default

2. Mystical Seduction

3. Dreaming, Music, Ocean

4. Homo Viator


Part 2: Understanding Through Fiction

5. Prayer, Writing, Politics

6. How to Write Sensible Experience, or, of Water as the Fiction of Touch

7. The Imaginary of an Unfindable Sense Curled Into a God Findable in Me


Part 3: The Wanderer

8. Everything So Constrained Me

9. Her Lovesickness

10. The Ideal Father and the Host


Part 4: Extreme Letters, Extremes of Being

11. Bombs and Ramparts

12. "Cristo como hombre"

13. Image, Vision, and Rapture

14. "The soul isn't in possession of its senses, but it rejoices"

15. A Clinical Lucidity

16. The Minx and the Sage

17. Better to Hide . . .?

18. ". . . Or 'to do what lies within my power' "?

19. From Hell to Foundation


Part 5: From Ecstasy to Action

20. The Great Tide

21. Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and His Majesty

22. The Maternal Vocation

23. Constituting Time

24. Tutti a cavallo


Part 6: Foundation–Persecution

25. The Mystic and the Jester

26. A Father Is Beaten to Death

27. A Runaway Girl

28. "Give me trials, Lord; give me persecutions"

29. "With the ears of the soul"


Part 7: Dialogues from Beyond the Grave

30. Act I. Her Women

31. Act II. Her Eliseus

32. Act III: Her "Little Seneca"

33. Act IV. The Analyst's Farewell


Part 8: Postscript

34. Letter to Denis Diderot on the Infinitesimal Subversion of a Nun












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