Libidinal Economies: Sexual Fantasies and Deferred Pleasure in Barbara Kirchner’s Die verbesserte Frau

Simone Pfleger


The fulfillment of sexual fantasies and libidinal pleasure plays a central role in constructions of desire, power, and narratives of self-optimization and freedom in three of the main characters in Barbara Kirchner’s crime novel Die verbesserte Frau (2012). This essay focuses on the figure of the Prototyp, a woman who, against her will, has undergone neurological reprogramming to experience feelings of pain as pleasure. As figures in the novel negotiate their relationship with and desire for the Prototyp, they experience stultification and deferral of the gratification of their corporeal longing and excitement. While one might assume that this type of relationality is negatively connoted, the text demonstrates that under particular circumstances some of the characters are able to forge connections to others, even if they are embedded in exploitative structures and those bonds are not permanent. (SP)

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