chapter  13
16 Pages

The Self and “Other(s)” in Cixous’ Sihanouk

It would seem that Hélène Cixous’ play, The Terrible but Unfinished Story of Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia (1985), marked a turning point in her work: movement from the body to history, from the self to others. Through theater she was, as she put it, venturing away from “those rare, desert places where only poems grow” to enter “the land of others” where “the self remains imperceptible” (L’Indiade 253).1 Sihanouk, commissioned by director Ariane Mnouchkine to be part of the Théâtre du Soleil’s cycle of history plays,2 takes as its framework the period from 1955 to 1979 in Cambodia; it covers Sihanouk’s various exiles from his country and the rise of the Khmers Rouges. Cixous followed Sihanouk with two works which also evidence openness to the international political scene: her play, The Indiade or the India of Their Dreams (1987) and her long prose-poem, Manna (1988).3