Volume 82, 2008
Forgiveness in the Works of Julia Kristeva
Public Act or Private Meaning?
This paper explores the theory of forgiveness offered by Julia Kristeva in her interview with Alison Rice for PMLA, in order to evaluate her “separation of spheres” and her claim that the practice of forgiveness may only occur between individuals. To limit forgiveness in this way has many interesting ramifications, chief among which is the manner in which communion is conflated for “relation” in the general sense. I argue that this inappropriate sense of communion leads Kristeva to an inaccurate distinction, and that her quasi-religious description of forgiveness and the understanding of oneself and others entailed by it, are better grounded in a sense of communion as unity of persons in a transcendent manner. To grasp forgiveness as an act of communion therefore holds several consequences for Kristeva’s theory and radically restructures the relation between the persons involved.