Lacan and Literature

Purloined Pretexts

By Ben Stoltzfus

Subjects: Comparative Literature
Series: SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture
Paperback : 9780791429327, 242 pages, July 1996
Hardcover : 9780791429310, 242 pages, July 1996

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Table of contents



1. D.H. Lawrence: The Escaped Cock

2. D. H. Lawrence: "The Rocking-Horse Winner"

3. Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises: Writing the Pleasure Principle in a Postmodern Context

4. Ernest Hemingway: A Farewell to Arms: Pronominal Shifts and Metaphorical Slippage

5. Ernest Hemingway: The Garden of Eden

6. Albert Camus's Homonymous Veilings: "La Mer/Mere au Plus Pres"

7. Albert Camus: The Stranger

8. Toward Bliss: Roland Barthes and Alain Robbe-Grillet: Autobiography as Fiction

9. Alain Robbe-Grillet: Fantasy as Discourse of the Other

Conclusion: Between the Folds of Metafiction and Mimesis (or) Writing the Reader with Postmodern Vestments




This book of literary criticsm uses Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to explicate Roland Barthes, Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, and Alain Robbe-Grillet.


Winner of the 1997 Gradiva Award for Best Book (Cultural Arts Related) awarded by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (NAAP)

Using Lacanian psychoanalytic theory in order to uncover the relationship between literature, reading, and the unconscious, this book argues for a special affinity between a text and its reader. This process strives to unveil the disguises of tropic language in order to generate manifest meaning from latent content. Focusing on five twentieth-century writers: D.H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, Roland Barthes, and Alain Robbe-Grillet, this book shows how Freud's theories of condensation and displacement in dreams match Lacan's uses of metaphor and metonymy in language. Despite the different backgrounds of these authors from America, England, and France, the unifying theme is that the unconscious (because it is structured like language) is the voice of the (m)Other disguised in figurative language.

Ben Stoltzfus is Professor Emeritus of French, Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of The Eye of the Needle; Black Lazarus; Red White & Blue; Alain Robbe-Grillet and the New French Novel; Georges Chennevierre et L'Unamisme; Gide's Eagles; Gide and Hemingway: Rebels against God; Alain Robbe-Grillet: The Body of Text; Alain Robbe-Grillet: Life, Work and Criticism; and Postmodern Poetics: Nouveau Roman and Innovative Fiction.


"This is an elegantly written and well argued analysis and interpretation of metaphorical and metonymic riddles and equations in a series of paradigmatic texts. Stoltzfus applies close reading techniques in a playful, i.e., both detached and attached rather than pedantic manner. At no point does the reader of this book feel lost in the complexity of the argument or crushed by the weight of theoretical jargon. The strength of this book is its unobtrusive yet seducing pedagogy that is firmly rooted in the author's erudition and teaching experience." — Raymond Gay-Crosier, University of Florida