Among the wonders of The Bodies That Remain is the fact nobody has thought to do precisely this before: a book about the ways past writers’ and artists’ bodies insist, persist, and haunt us in the present. Under Emmy Beber’s engaged and vigilant editorship, The Bodies That Remain addresses itself to the nature of biography, relations between creativity and incarnation, desire and its discontents, illness as metaphor and emphatically not metaphor. There are bodies that felt and feel too present, those that vanish or turn out never to have been, others that assert themselves or doubt themselves in the work they have made.

~ Brian Dillon, Royal College of Art

The Bodies That Remain

The Bodies That Remain is a collection of bodies and absences.

Through biography, experimental essay and interview, fictional manifestation, and poetic extraction, The Bodies That Remain is a collection of texts and images on the bodies of artists and writers who battled with the frustration of their own physicality and whose work reckoned with these limitations and continued beyond them.

The Bodies That Remain looks back at how the identity of these bodies was shaped by the spaces around them, through the retelling of memory, through stories told by others; of how their work, processed by their body, made it possible for others to experience sensations – mourning, desire, or a nostalgia that could not belong to another, to another’s body and in capturing this ability, their work confirms the body’s urgency.

Amongst others, The Bodies That Remain tells the story of Emily Dickinson’s decay, the missing grave of Valeska Gert, the voice and sound of the body of Judee Sill, and the derailed body and its work of Jane Bowles. It questions the absent body but broken organs of JT Leroy as they find themselves scattered across texts, and also interrogates the loss of distinction of illness for Jules de Goncourt as syphilis riddled his nervous system. It retrieves the illusory body of Kathy Acker through dream and through horror, sees the morphing body of Michael Jackson in becoming all of the bodies he was asked to be, and looks toward Sylvia Plath and the language of her own body.

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Contributions include texts and images by: Lynne Tillman (on Jane Bowles), David Rule (on Michael Jackson), Mairead Case (on Judee Sill), Claire Potter (on the Lads of Aran), Jeremy Millar (on Emily Dickinson), Chloé Griffin (on Valeska Gert), Phoebe Blatton (on Brigid Brophy), Susanna Davies-Crook (on Sarah Kane), Travis Jeppensen (on Gary Sullivan), Karen Di Franco (on Mary Butts), Tai Shani (on Mnemesoid), Philip Hoare (on Denton Welch), Heather Phillipson (on a dead dog), Uma Breakdown (on Guage Fanfic), Linda Stuppart (on Kathy Acker), Sharon Kivland (on Jacques Lacan), Harman Bains (on Wilhelm Reich), Pil & Galia Kollectiv (JT Leroy), Kevin Breathnach (on Jules de Goncourt), and Emily LaBarge (on Sylvia Plath).

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