The French theorist Lacan has always been called a ‘literary’ theoretician. Here is, for the first time, a complete study of his literary analyses and examples, with an account of the importance of literature in the building of his highly original system of thought. Rabate offers a systematic genealogy of Lacan’s theory of literature, reconstructing a doctrine based upon Freudian insights, and revitalised through close readings of authors as diverse as Poe, Gide, Shakespeare, Plato, Claudel, Genet, Duras and Joyce. Not simply an essay about Lacan’s influences or style, this book shows how the emergence of key terms like the ‘letter’ and the ‘symptom’ would not have been possible without innovative readings of literary texts.
‘… Highly readable, packed with helpful background information, this book is sure to become a required text in literature and Lacan courses.‘
—Joan Copjec, Director, Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture, University of Buffalo
‘In his reading of Lacan (Rabaté) brings to bear a deep knowledge of the philosophical and psychological traditions within – and against – which Lacan worked, and an impressive intimacy with the literary texts, ranging form Sophocles’ Antigone to Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, which inspired so much of his discourse. To read this book is at once to be schooled in the wily iconoclasm of Lacan’s cultural engagements and stimulated into fresh thought about the force and function of literature.‘
—Professor Derek Attridge, University of York
Jean-Michel Rabaté is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.