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Veiled DesiresIntimate Portrayals of Nuns in Postwar Anglo-American Film$
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Maureen Sabine

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251650

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251650.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 05 August 2021

Sexual Desires

Sexual Desires

Repression and Sublimation in Black Narcissus (1947), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), and Sea Wife (1957)

(p.59) 2 Sexual Desires
Veiled Desires

Maureen Sabine

Fordham University Press

Chapter 2 analyzes the representation of Anglican missionary nuns in Black Narcissus, and argues that while these sisters have been critiqued as agents of British and Christian imperialism in India, they have not been studied as women contending with the psychosexual pressures of the celibate religious life. The visually stunning flashbacks in this Powell and Pressburger film reveal the turbulent desires hidden beneath the veil; demonstrate the dangers of the emotional repression of sexuality; trace an emergent counter dynamics of sublimation; and elevate erotic memories into flashes of spiritual illumination. This chapter goes on to suggest how Deborah Kerr's fire-and-ice screen image embodies the tensions of sexual repression, attraction, and sublimation that are examined not only in Black Narcissus, but less successfully, in two later 1957 films, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison and Sea Wife.

Keywords:   Anglican missionary nuns, Christian imperialism, British India, Sexual repression, Sublimation, Deborah Kerr, Powell and Pressburger, Black Narcissus, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, Sea Wife

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