«I Will Eat You and Spit You Out»: A Reading of the ‘Lesbian Machine’ in Dacia Maraini’s Lettere a Marina


  • Simona Casadio Utrecht University



parole chiave:

Italian Lesbian Literature, Philosophy of Desire, Dacia Maraini, Cannibalism, Metamorphosis, Lettere a Marina, Queering Lesbian Desire


This article analyzes the «lesbian-machine» (Grosz 1995, 184) at work in Dacia Maraini’s novel Lettere a Marina (1981) and collection of poems Mangiami pure (1978). To this purpose, I engage with two conceptions of desire within the western philosophical tradition. Firstly, examining the development of the metaphor of cannibalism or ‘eros fagico’, I argue that Maraini avoids the ontologization of the notion of desire considered as a lack and thus disengages it from its historical association with the denigration of the female other. Secondly, conceiving desire as a force of production, relational and creative, I explore a particular use of metaphors in the novel which leads to bodily transformations or metamorphosis, without, however, reaching the subject’s imperceptibility through progressive identification. The co-presence and re-elaboration of two, apparently incompatible, theories of desire underline female same-sex desire’s potential to be thought and actualized as a lack and a production, its tendency to annihilate and being annihilated as well as its creative impulses. As a result, Dacia Maraini’s Lettere a Marina and Mangiami pure complicate and destabilize the fixity of representational categories, expanding discourses on lesbianism and lesbian desire. Indeed, the convolution of negative and positive dilates the domain of desire and multiplies its possibilities, carving out a «narrative space in which women might desire differently» (Ross 2015, 16), beyond the heterosexual norm and in diverse ways, who and how they please.




come citare

Casadio, S. «“I Will Eat You and Spit You Out”: A Reading of the ‘Lesbian Machine’ in Dacia Maraini’s Lettere a Marina». Altrelettere, dicembre 2020, pagg. 78-99, doi:10.5903/al_uzh-48.