In his 1984 introduction to the Columbia University Press edition of Revolution in Poetic Language, Margaret Waller’s partial translation of the massive 664-page work that earned Julia Kristeva her doctorate, Léon Roudiez makes an announcement that, in its mixture of urgency and provocation, resembles some of Kristeva’s own most memorable assertions. He maintains that: “Julia Kristeva is a compelling presence that critics and scholars can ignore only at the risk of intellectual sclerosis” (1).1 This call to notice is implicitly directed to readers of English, particularly those in the United States, who have perhaps “been slow in recognizing the importance of her work, for it has not been translated [here] as promptly as it has been elsewhere” (1). Since that time, the warning has been duly heeded, in the United States and throughout the world. Indeed, more than thirty years of writing, psychoanalytic practice, and teaching on two continents have secured Kristeva’s status as one of the most formidable figures in twentieth-century critical theory. To date, her work has been translated into ten languages.
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