Julia Kristeva: Readings of Exile and Estrangement Anna Smith
MacMillan Press. 1996.
I picked up this book with some interest as I had had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Smith lecture on Kristeva whilst I was at Canterbury. This review is going to be fairly general given that the books editor has warned me not to be too 'technical.'
When I was reading the book I felt that it was important for two main reasons. It seems to me that one of the things one's time at university should do (and this seems to happen rarely) is to open the minds of its students, to make them ask questions, both about themselves and their relationship with society. Questioning the system is something which I fear does not happen enough in the post-rogernomic age of blah. This book (through the writings of Kristeva) questions the relationship of the individual to the language(s) that they use. For Kristeva, Smith, and many other writers this is an important beginning when analysing scoiety; especially when one is looking at those not as priviliged as the majority of us here at Victoria. For it is through language that we gain the framework that we use to build up our perception of the world. Smith's reading of Kristeva is aimed at giving us a new way of seeing our relationship to language; specifically the ways in which women are constructed within our (primarily) male language.
Secondly I find it heartening that a New Zealander is interacting at an intellectual level with one of the major philosophers of the late twentieth century. But then what is there to stop us? We, as a nation have a great many problems and it is only by dealing with the essentials, by engaging people, that we are going to make this country a better place. That is why I think that YOU should read this book.