Research Online


Goldsmiths - University of London

Cadaverised girls: the writing of Anna Kavan

Sweeney, Carole. 2018. Cadaverised girls: the writing of Anna Kavan. Textual Practice, ISSN 0950-236X [Article] (In Press)

No full text available
[img] Text
'Cadaverized Girls- The Writing of Anna Kavan'.docx - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only until 15 April 2020.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (116kB)

Abstract or Description

Even as modernist studies have adopted the more historicizing approach of the longer durée, Anna Kavan’s work continues to be overlooked as an example of later modernist writing. Beginning her career as Helen Ferguson, she published six realist novels before changing her name in 1939-40 when she began to write in a more expressionistic style regarded as a direct consequence of her long-term heroin addiction. Providing an introduction to her work as well as a more detailed reading, this article suggests that Kavan’s writing is more complex than a simple reflection of narcotic dependency. Using Julia Kristeva’s idea of depression and melancholia, the drive to lifelessness in Kavan’s work is read here as the internalisation of the ‘dead’ mother. For the deadened ‘girls’ in Kavan’s fiction, the damaged relationship to the maternal chora is carried around as the unnamed Thing rendering the child guilty, disconsolate and in constant retreat from the symbolic order

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Anna Kavan, Post-war British fiction, Expressionist modernism, Julia Kristeva, Melancholia; The ‘dead’ mother, Matricide.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


17 August 2018Accepted
15 October 2018Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 Aug 2016 10:19

Last Modified:

06 Aug 2019 15:48

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)