“Being then nothing”
Physicality, abjection and creation in Janice Galloway’s short fiction
This article explores the prominence of the body in Janice Galloway’s short fiction. Drawing mainly on Kristeva’s notions of the semiotic and the abject, the argument initially establishes the central place of physicality in Galloway’s poetics. Her creative project is inspired by a desire to transmit in writing the experience of being alive, of how being is intrinsically fragile, inexorably bound to extinction. In a particularly sharp manner that engages the reader more actively than her novels, her short stories exhibit both formally and thematically an interaction of the symbolic and the semiotic. As being attentive to life entails an awareness of death if one is to write realistically, the ensuing discussion of stories from her three collections –Blood (1991), Where you find it (1996) and Jellyfish (2015)– reveals that abjection, the extreme version of the semiotic that threatens to cancel out the symbolic, is paramount in her creative universe.
Blanchot, M. (1995). Literature and the right to death. The work of fire. (C. Madell, Trans.) (pp. 300–344). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press (Original work published in 1949).
Brosch, R. (2015). Experiencing short stories: A cognitive approach focusing on reading narrative space. In J. Achilles & I. Bergmann (Eds.), Liminality and the short story: Boundary crossings in American, Canadian, and British writing (pp. 92–105). New York, NY: Routledge.
Brown, G. (1996, May 31). The trick is to start writing. The Independent. Retrieved 8 October, 2018 from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/the-trick-is-to-start-writing-1349929.html
Burgess, M. (1996). The Glasgow short story. The Association for Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS). Retrieved October 5, 2018 from https://asls.arts.gla.ac.uk/Laverock-Glasgow_Short_Story.html
Covino, D. C. (2004). Amending the abject body: Aesthetic makeovers in medicine and culture. Albany, NJ: State University of New York Press.
Galloway, J. (1989). The trick is to keep breathing. London: Vintage.
Galloway, J. (2009). Collected stories. London: Vintage.
Galloway, J. (2015). Jellyfish. Glasgow: Fright Books.
Hock-Soon Ng, A. (2004). Dimensions of monstrosity in contemporary narratives: Theory, psychoanalysis, postmodernism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Holm, J. L. (2017). Flesh and blood in Claude Chabrol’s Le boucher. In C. J. Miller & A. Bowdoin van Riper (Eds.), What’s eating you?: Food and horror on screen (pp. 155–167). New York, NY: Bloomsbury.
Jackson, E. R. (2004). Love in a changing environment: Placing Janice Galloway’s short stories. In L. Jackson (Ed.), Exchanges: Reading Janice Galloway’s fictions (pp. 7–20). Edinburgh: Edinburgh Review.
Kay, S. (2003). Žižek: A critical introduction. Cambridge: Polity.
Kristeva, J. (1982). Powers of horror: An essay on abjection. (L. S. Roudiez, Trans.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press (Original work published in 1980).
Kristeva, J. (1984). Revolution in poetic language. (M. Waller, Trans. and L. S. Roudiez, Intr.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press (Original work published in 1974).
Kristeva, J. (1989). Black sun: Depression and melancholia. (L. S. Roudiez, Trans.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press (Original work published in 1987).
Kojève, A. (1969). Introduction to the reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of spirit. (R. Queneau & A. Bloom, Eds. and J. H. Nichols, Jr, Trans.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press (Original work published in 1947).
Korte, B. (2003). The short story in Britain: A historical sketch and anthology. Tübingen: Francke.
Lacan, J. (1991). The seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book II: The ego in Freud’s theory and in the technique of psychoanalysis, 1954–1955. (J.-A. Miller, Ed. and S. Tomaselli, Trans.). New York, NY: Norton (Original work published in 1978).
Lacan, J. (2006). The function and field of speech and language in psychoanalysis. Écrits. (B. Fink, Trans.) (pp. 197–268). New York, NY: Norton (Original work published in 1966).
March, C. L. (1999). Interview with Janice Galloway. Edinburgh Review, 101, 85–98.
March, C. L. (2002). Rewriting Scotland. Welsh, McLean, Warner, Banks, Galloway, and Kennedy. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Martín Alegre, S. (2009). Re-inventing Tradition(s): The grotesque in short stories by Scottish women writers. In M. Amengual, M. Juan & J. Salazar (Eds.), New perspectives on English studies (pp. 461–465). Palma de Mallorca: Ediciones UIB – Universitat de les Illes Balears.
McGlynn, M. (2008). “I didn’t need to eat”: Janice Galloway’s anorexic text and the national body. Critique, 49(2), 221–236.
Norquay, G. (2000). Janice Galloway’s novels: Fraudulent mooching. In A. Christianson & A. Lumsden (Eds.), Contemporary Scottish women writers (pp. 131–143). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Paccaud-Huguet, J. (2004). Breaking through cracked mirrors: The short stories of Janice Galloway. In L. Jackson (Ed.), Exchanges: Reading Janice Galloway’s fictions (pp. 55–78). Edinburgh: Edinburgh Review.
Sacido-Romero, J. (2018). An interview with Janice Galloway. The bottle imp, 23. Retrieved 4 October, 2018 from https://www.thebottleimp.org.uk/2018/07/an-interview-with-janice-galloway/
Tym, L. (2013). Perilous boundaries: Affective experience in three Scottish women writers’ short fiction. Journal of the short story in English, 61. Retrieved October 4, 2018 from http://jsse.revues.org/1389
Watt, Ian. (1980). Conrad in the Nineteenth Century. London: Chatto & Windus.
Žižek, S. (1989). The sublime object of ideology. London: Verso.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
The works published in this journal are subject to the following terms:
1. The Publications Services at the University of Murcia (the publisher) retains the property rights (copyright) of published works, and encourages and enables the reuse of the same under the license specified in item 2.
2. The works are published in the electronic edition of the magazine under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike 4.0.
3.Conditions of self-archiving. Authors are encouraged to disseminate pre-print (draft papers prior to being assessed) and/or post-print versions (those reviewed and accepted for publication) of their papers before publication, because it encourages distribution earlier and thus leads to a possible increase in citations and circulation among the academic community.
RoMEO color: green