The Force of Desire: A Deleuzian Reading of Sexuality in the Writings of René Depestre and Maryse Condé

This article argues that Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptualization of desire in terms of a social force as opposed to the Freudian postulate that desire appears in the private sphere and is dictated by lack, shares many features with Caribbean authors’ analysis of the intricate relationships between structures of power and the unconscious. Looking at the ways in which René Depestre and Maryse Condé explore sexuality in their writings, I will show that their depictions of sex as an affirmative force are in line with Deleze and Guattari’s thinking and can be seen as a reaction to the idea that the Caribbean situation is determined by a feeling of identitairian loss and lack. Focusing mainly on Depestre’s poems in Journal d’un animal marin (1964) and Condé’s novel Célanire, cou coupé (2000), my readings will demonstrate that these authors let the flow of desire slip between the colonial machinery as they turn sexual activity into a laboratory for elaborating on a subjectivity that is not governed by a feeling of incompleteness but that emerges in relation to other bodies and other flows of desire.

author Christina Kullberg

Research in African Literatures, Indiana. 46(3): 130-145.

published 2016