A FATHER by Sibylle Lacan

A FATHER

Puzzle
by ; translated by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A brief memoir in snapshots by the daughter of famed French psychologist Jacques Lacan.

By the time Sibylle Lacan (1940-2013) was born, her father had not only abandoned her mother and siblings; he had another daughter on the way. The author and her siblings would retain their father’s surname, but he officially erased all mention of them from his professional life, from his listing in Who’s Who, and even from his office, where he had a single photo of his youngest daughter with his second wife: “To his patients, to us, to me, for over twenty years, my father seemed to be saying: Here is my daughter, my only daughter, here is my darling daughter.” Since her father was already gone from the household by the time of her birth, and their relationship ever after was sporadic, his presence in her life was mainly an absence, which became a black hole of depression: “Impossible to study, to learn, to recall,” she writes. “Always the same weariness, that foggy sensation, the same absence of emotion. My life was hell.” She wanted her father to save her, but the best he could do was to refer her to other analysts. “He was an intermittent father,” she writes. “A father in fragments.” This choppy memoir is as much about the author’s own emotional disappearance into the ether as her father’s presence or absence in her life. Many of the passages are less than a page, a paragraph of a couple of sentences; very few extend over more than two pages. For the author, closure only came after her father’s death—despite a “doubly sinister” funeral in which her own family felt like bit players. Several years later, she visited his grave, “laid my hand on the icy stone until it burned,” and finally felt reconciliation.

Slim, fragmented memories of the daughter that Lacan and readers barely knew.

Pub Date: June 4th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-262-03931-4
Page count: 104pp
Publisher: MIT
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2019




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