Julia Kristeva's Voyage in the Thérèsian Continent: The Malady of Love and the Enigma of an Incarnated, Shareable, Smiling Imaginary


  • Maria Margaroni University of Cyprus




Kristeva, sublimation, St. Therese, baroque, the imaginary, faith and idealization, infinity, Leibniz, mysticism, Terror, fiction, beauty


Drawing on Julia Kristeva's amorous dialogue with Therese in Therese, mon amour, her third volume on the powers and limits of psychoanalysis (La haine et le pardon), and Cet incroyable besoin de croire, my aim in this essay is to unpack Kristeva's theory of sublimation which, I suggest, Therese helps her elaborate, enrich and complicate. In particular, I focus on Kristeva's foregrounding of the mediating role of language in the sublimatory process and her rethinking of the experience and stakes of sublimation in light of what has been discussed as the central problematic of the baroque: namely, the blurring of the distinction between appearance and reality and the uninhibited celebration of illusion. As I demonstrate, this problematic and Therese's unique response to it are most important for Kristeva since they enable her to raise questions which carry her beyond her previous treatments of sublimation. These questions relate to the amorous source of the imaginary; the dynamic established between idealization and sublimation; the dangers of an unbridled imaginary; the uncomfortable residue of matter and the body; the dialectic between finitude and infinity, unity and multiplicity.

Author Biography

Maria Margaroni, University of Cyprus

I am Associate Professor in Literary Theory and Feminist Thought in the Department of English Studies, at the University of Cyprus