Postmodernism and the serial killer

By Carmen Comment

Julia Kristeva is a French psychoanalyst and writer who is considered to be an icon in postmodern theory. So what’s she doing writing mystery novels — and serial killer thrillers, at that? She explains by email to the Boston Globe’s Celia Wren why she decided on a more populist topic for her second novel (and first to be translated into English) MURDER IN BYZANTIUM:

“The detective novel deals with the radical evil that is the desire of death,” she observed. However, “contrary to other genres that lull the reader with various illusions, the detective novel is an optimistic genre that says: You cannot eradicate evil, but you can know where it comes from by leading an investigation. This is the optimism of curiosity, of awareness, of questioning.”

As evident by her answer, Kristeva’s motivations remain solidly intellectual whether she’s writing novels or analysis. “Don’t forget,” adds Lawrence D. Kritzman, a Dartmouth professor who recently edited The Columbia History of Twentieth-Century French Thought, “Freud in his writings says some place that the psychologist is both an archeologist and Sherlock Holmes.”