Ann Pistacchi


In her groundbreaking book, Siblings: Sex and Violence, Juliet Mitchell emphatically states, ‘[i]ncest is the crossing of boundaries, or perhaps, if we think about its sibling base, the absence of them’ (62). When Te Rua, the narratorprotagonist of Patricia Grace’s 2001 Kiriyama Prize winning novel, Dogside Story, copulates with his sister and fathers her child, he is clearly crossing these boundaries, and violating in the process what is considered by many to be the ultimate taboo. In nearly all modern cultures ‘breaking the incest ban strikes at the core of the family and society, if not the viability of the species’ (Turner & Maryanski 1), and for this reason, anthropologist Robin Fox believes that ‘at the very least, the idea [of incest] seems to make us easily uneasy, and at worst, downright hysterical’ (5). Grace’s use of the incest motif in Dogside Story utilises this ‘near–universality’ (Richardson 553) of the incest taboo to reinforce an innate, universalising fear — the fear of (and revulsion towards) the violation of the incest prohibition and the progeny it produces.



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