Consolation as Graced Encounters with Ignatius of Loyola and Hélène Cixous

Jennifer Reek


This article suggests that the sixteenth-century Basque saint Ignatius of Loyola and the French thinker Hélène Cixous expe- rienced consolation in unexpected encounters with texts. For Ignatius, consolation came as a result of reading while recover- ing from a battle wound in 1521 the only texts available to him, of lives of the saints and Christ. For Cixous, it was the consol- ing birth of her writing life after the death of her father in 1948 and 30 years later a chance reading of the Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector. These encounters serve here as a point of departure into a beginning exploration of reading and writing as consolation in the work and life of these two disparate yet essentially compatible figures. Taking a cue from Cixous’s reading and writing practices, personal criticism is used in the reading of their texts so that the writing of this essay may itself perform an act of consoling.

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