“We will call this ‘doing our exorcises’”
Abjecting Mrs. Blood
Even though Audrey Thomas’s Mrs. Blood (1970) has received a considerable amount of critical attention, what has not been analysed in detail is the complex interaction between the novel’s existential themes and its highly poetic language. By relying on Julia Kristeva’s insights on the link between border crossing experiences and a discourse that is marked by the discharge of affects, this paper intends to come to a better appreciation of the novel’s strong association of narrative and style. By closely analysing several passages, it argues that even though Mrs. Thing — the rationalizing side of the narrator’s persona — feels alienated from normative, communicative discourse as it cannot accommodate her border crossing experiences, her fear of losing all grasp on self and meaning makes her desperate to hold on to the symbolic. Significantly, both her narrative as well as that of her alter ego are characterized by syntactic, lexical and phonetic disruptions (i.e. the semiotic) that give expression to affects and emotions that resist being silenced or bound into strict patterns. The novel’s discourse, in other words, undermines the narrator’s desire for stability and illustrates that both Mrs. Thing’s overreliance on normative communication (i.e. the symbolic) and Mrs. Blood’s complete submission to the discharge of affects (i.e. the semiotic) are disastrous for the speaking subject.