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Manhattan is the tale of a young French scholar who travels to the United States in 1965 on a Fulbright Fellowship to consult the manuscripts of beloved authors. In Yale University's Beinecke Library, tantalized by the conversational and epistolary brilliance of a fellow researcher, she is lured into a picaresque and tragic adventure. Meanwhile, back in France, her children and -nsense mother await her return. A young European intellectual's first contact with America and the city of New York are the background of this story. The experience of Manhattan haunts this labyrinth of a book as, over a period of thirty-five years, its narrator visits and revisits Central Park and a half-buried squirrel, the Statue of Liberty and a never again to be found hotel in the vicinity of Morningside Heights: a journey into memory in which everything is never the same. Traveling from library to library, France to the United States, Shakespeare to Kafka to Joyce, Manhattan deploys with gusto all the techniques for which Cixous's fiction and essays are kwn: rapid juxtapositions of time and place, narrative and description, analysis and philosophical reflection. It investigates subjects Cixous has spent her life probing: reading, writing, and the omnipotence-other seductions of literature; a family's flight from Nazi Germany and postcolonial Algeria; childhood, motherhood, and, t least, the strange experience of falling in love with, as Jacques Derrida writes, a counterfeit genius.
HELENE CIXOUS's Three Steps on the Ladder to Writing and Laugh of the Medusa are seminal texts in postmodern cultural theory. Born in 1937 in Algeria, former Chair of the Centre de Recherches en Etudes Feminines at Paris VIII University, Cixous lectures in France and abroad. Her writing is remarkable for its crossing of boundaries between the genres and styles of fiction, autobiography, and analysis. BEVERLEY BIE BRAHIC lives in Paris. She is the translator of Helene Cixous's Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint, Dream I Tell You, Reveries of the Wild Woman, and The Day I Wasn't There, and the author of a volume of poems, Against Gravity.