By Elizabeth Chapman Hoult (auth.)
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Additional info for Adult Learning and la Recherche Féminine: Reading Resilience and Hélène Cixous
Similarly, even in the context of a deconstructive reading experiment, the fact that all these texts were written by men needs to at least be acknowledged. The females in these texts occupy a liminal state. They are, in Elisabeth Bronfen’s phrase, “metaphorically effaced”10 rather than literally dead. Ambivalent figures, they do not attract quite the same cultural associations as the dead female body (comprehensively analyzed by Bronfen). Rather, they invite a different kind of masculine attention— one that acknowledges risk and in which the resurrecting swagger of the selfappointed miracle worker is always accompanied by the terror of what he might awaken.
50 She is undoubtedly tough; this Galatea is not of the delicate and passive Ovidian model. Although she keenly protests that her sexuality is not for sale (“I’m a good girl, I am”), she is clearly well Pygmalion ● 39 aware of the pitfalls of being a single woman on the streets of London, and she takes care of herself accordingly—“I know what the likes of you are, I do,”51 she says to Higgins and to Mrs. ”52 So although she initiates the transformational learning episode, she does so with a fierce sense of agency and self-sufficiency.
This is a long way from the self-satisfied, sneering isolate of the first text. In this version, the sculptor himself is in desperate need of transformation, because he is locked up within himself as well as within his studio. Trapped, he is left lonely and living a kind of death-inlife existence. The phobia would be bad enough, were it not for the accompanying adoration of females. He sleepwalks through life, disconnected to Pygmalion ● 33 what is real and instead obsessed with the ideal of feminine perfection.