Luce Irigaray: Back to the Beginning

Ovidiu Anemtoaicei, Yvette Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2014 it will be 40 years since Luce Irigaray’s (second) doctoral thesis Speculum de l'autre femme was first published. That book, widely recognized as the most important text in feminist philosophy, was to introduce Irigaray’s critique of western philosophy and psychoanalysis and her ethics of sexual difference for which she was to become so well known. Irigaray, well into her eighties now, has published continuously since Speculum, despite her exclusion from French academic life after her expulsion in 1974 from the Université de Paris VIII Vincennes. That her latest book In the Beginning, She Was, released on the eve of Speculum’s anniversary, is perhaps the most personally revelatory of her works and revisits many of the same themes and issues that concerned her in Speculum cannot be coincidental. In this critical notice we examine Irigaray’s latest offering arguing that her contribution is twofold as she combines with new clarity her longstanding critique of phallocratic culture and her transformative vision of humanity as a culture of sexuate difference. There are a number of important themes addressed in the six chapters of the book, but for the purposes of this discussion our analysis will focus mostly on elaborating her critique of Western culture, on the usefulness of her work for rethinking masculine subject formation and on the figure of Antigone, as a feminine subject on her own terms, as a way of imagining a possible relation between two subjects within a culture of sexuate difference. We argue that this book continues to illustrate Irigaray’s importance as one of the most radical and prophetic philosophers of our time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-786
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophical Studies
Issue number5
Early online date11 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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