From strangeness to closeness

Bodies and senses in Emil Tode’s Raadio


Keywords: affect, intimacy, post-structuralism, Estonian literature, Lauren Berlant, feminism

Emil Tode’s novel Raadio (Radio, 2002) feels more than it knows. Although Raadio can be viewed as an ironic postmodern text, it feels too much for postmodernism, a mode of writing often associated with the waning of affect. Raadio is full of ­bubbling sensations and affective moments, which are not just decorative. Instead, these moments help the narrator to express intimacies that are otherwise suppressed under “major” narratives of love, to use Lauren Berlant’s (1998) term. The moments that are full of odd bodily sensations and affectively-loaded encounters in Raadio can be explained when read with contemporary affect studies as theorised by Berlant, Kathleen Stewart and others. On the one hand, then, this article introduces a new way of thinking about literature in Estonia by taking into account the affective and embodied qualities of the texts studied. On the other hand, as this article traces the tension between language and lived experience in Raadio, it also contributes to understanding the continuities between post-structuralism and affect theories, in particular in the quest for affective modes of writing. It does so by reading the works of poststructuralist feminists like Hélène Cixous and Julia Kristeva in the light of contemporary affect theories, especially highlighting the importance of post-structural feminism’s contribution to contemporary thinking on embodiment, lived experience and affective writing.


Raili Marling (b. 1973), PhD, University of Tartu, College of Foreign Languages and ­Cultures, Professor of English Studies (Lossi 3, 51003 Tartu), raili.marling@ut.ee

Eret Talviste (b. 1991), PhD, University of Tartu, College of Foreign Languages and ­Cultures, Researcher of Contemporary English Literature (Lossi 3, 51003 Tartu), eret.talviste@ut.ee