Manna: for the Mandelstams for the Mandelas (Exxon Lecture Series)
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In this act of willful writing, by turns lyrical and intense, Helene Cixous brings Osip Mandelstam and Nelson Mandela together through the common first syllables of their names, the dates of their respective exiles, and the women, Nadezhda Mandelstam and Winnie-Zami Mandela, who disclose and restore their partners' lives through language. For Cixous, politics is approached most openly and freely through poetry; social change cannot exist without linguistic change. Her poetic language moderates the historical, political, and personal tales of Mandelstam and Mandela to produce a new sense of individual tragedy and cultural possibility. This intriguing and beautiful book is an act of emancipation as it releases its subjects - along with its readers - from the restricted language of constraint and exile. Long distinguished among creative writers in France and as an intellectual in the United States, Helene Cixous is the author of more than thirty volumes, many of which are now available in English-language translation. She has been highly praised in France and elsewhere by such renowned intellectuals as Jacques Derrida.
to see the furious face o f Brutus. This is how she protects her look of trust. Was the ostrich betrayed and assassinated? Or did she give herself up to death out of a love for trust? The truth of the ostrich is that she preferred to die trust ing, rather than to outlive trust. One might think she died of trust, but she died so as never to have to witness the assassi nation of trust. I insist on protesting against the calumny the ostrich has been victim to: the ostrich does not hide her head in
the black school girl with her teeth a flock of sheep, with her young eyes al ready a thousand years old. And this is also how, through this old man with hands left gluttonous a hundred years after the abandonment, Nelson began to come to her. Through all the sores. Through all the palms. Through the too great droughts and thirsts. And through the inexhaustible thread of hope in side the wizened child. The earth was the sore, its lips crack ling. Nelson was the rain. There are countries of
that doesn’t ask what is your race, in order to give of itself. The hippopotamus arrived neither too early nor too late in Z am i’s story. He is not an intrusion, not an accessory, not an exotic black passerby. He is the conductor of the orchestra perched on the edge of the musical gulf, the mute conductor of our intimate nostalgias. We barely look at him dancing for us, leading for us the huge herd of our passions. And yet, how to do without his familiar black back? Faceless water-diviner of
had a Zeni and a Zindzi to warm her right side and her left side, she who had for spouse the most just, the most grand, the most tender, the most cruelly desirable man in the country, and what else did she have? so much luck, so much strength, anger, certainty, pride, hate, so many people to shake up, she who had everything and w asn’t wanting for anything except her own life, see how suddenly, on M ay 16, 1977, when armed men came at four o ’clock in the morning to seize her when they invaded
death, on the death o f the poet his brother.50 There was abandonment, solace, and solitude. Why weep? H ow not to weep? It began thus: “ I think he feared death.” Then he cleared, running, the first eight steps toward the light and at the ninth, as if he had perceived a cage of clouds, or a net, or the archer up there waiting for him, he dropped everything and fell back down in a tangle, into obscurity. He was a tear. 117 And M andelstam and Bely, one suspended on the other. Lash and tear. I