Teresa My Love: An Imagined Life of the Saint of Avila

By Julia Kristeva, translated by Lorna Scott Fox

Available from Columbia University press

 

Mixing fiction, history, psychoanalysis, and personal fantasy, Teresa, My Love follows Sylvia Leclercq, a French psychoanalyst, academic, and incurable insomniac, as she falls for the sixteenth-century Saint Teresa of Avila and becomes consumed with charting her life. Traveling to Spain, Leclercq, Kristeva’s probing alterego, visits the sites and embodiments of the famous mystic and awakens to her own desire for faith, connection, and rebellion.

One of Kristeva’s most passionate and transporting works, Teresa, My Love interchanges biography, autobiography, analysis, dramatic dialogue, musical scores, and images of paintings and sculptures to embed the reader in Leclercq’s—and Kristeva’s—journey. Born in 1515, Teresa of Avila survived the Spanish Inquisition and was a key reformer of the Carmelite Order. Her experience of ecstasy, which she intimately described in her writings, released her from her body and led to a complete realization of her consciousness, a state Kristeva explores in relation to present-day political failures, religious fundamentalism, and cultural malaise. Incorporating notes from her own psychoanalytic practice, as well as literary and philosophical references, Kristeva builds a fascinating dual diagnosis of contemporary society and the individual psyche while sharing unprecedented insights into her own character.

Julia Kristeva is professor of linguistics at the Université de Paris VII and author of many acclaimed works and novels, including The Severed Head: Capital Visions, Hatred and Forgiveness, This Incredible Need to Believe, Murder in Byzantium, Melanie Klein, Hannah Arendt, New Maladies of the Soul, Strangers to Ourselves, and Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. She is the recipient of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought and the Holberg International Memorial Prize.