Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

4.48 Psychosis: Sarah Kane's "bewildered fragments"

Carolina Sánchez-Palencia Carazo


Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis was completed a few months before she killed herself in 1999 and was performed posthumously a year after. Although it is almost impossible not to view her last play as a suicide note, yet a more attentive reading invites us to liberate her from the so-called ‘Sylvia Plath’s syndrome’ which, prioritizing the biographical, distorts and impoverishes any other textual meaning. Among those meanings that are usually cancelled down by the mythologizing of the author (the dead author, in this case), this article focuses on Abjection, that which, according to Kristeva, remains outside the signifiable and threats the integrity of the ego border. In the psychotic subject (enacted by the anonymous voice/s of the play) the notion of a stable and coherent identity (one that would keep the abject under control) is seriously compromised and the boundaries between the “me” and the “not-me” get blurred. The resulting scenario is that of the dissipation of a definable subject, an evocative metaphor for the postmodern self. Either if Kane is to be related to Artaud (in her articulation of explicit violence and pain with a cathartic purpose) or if 4.48 Psychosis is regarded as ‘experiential’, it must be noticed that the provocative, confrontational and brutal language provided by the ‘in-yer-face’ theatre seems the best medium to express the disturbing aspects of the abject self.

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