The Veteran’s Wounded Body Before the Mirror: The Dialectic of Wholeness and Disintegration in Andreï Makine’s Prose

Helena Duffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A central point of historical reference in the writing of contemporary Russian-born French author, Andreï Makine, namely World War Two, which redrew the map of Europe and redressed the balance of power in world politics, both to the advantage of the Soviet Union, allows this highly successful novelist to remind his Western readers of Russia’s former military might and to re-posit the Soviet regime – generally seen as perpetrator of crimes against both other nations and the Russian people – as victim. The soldier’s wounded body emerges as concrete proof of the Soviet Union’s sacrifice in the struggle against fascism and as metaphor for the empire’s disintegration as a consequence of Russia’s opening to Western capital and values. Read first from a Foucauldian and then from a Lacanian perspective, the samovar (a soldier who has lost all his limbs) and other, less drastic, forms of wounding will be interpreted as surfaces painfully inscribed and even ruined by language, culture and history, and as an expression of the narrator’s longing for the morselised body’s fusion with the mother that precedes the mirror stage in the infant’s development. Reflected in Makine’s neo-realistic prose, the dismembered body becomes, paradoxically – like the samovar in the original sense of the word – a figure of wholeness with the potential to counter post-Soviet despondency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-88
JournalJournal of War and Culture Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Andrei Makine
  • Great Fatherland War
  • injury
  • amputation
  • Michel Foucault
  • dismemberment
  • mutilation
  • wounding

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