The British Novel and Lacan: Duality and Reflection
Spangler, E., December 2015 www.sparksjournal.org/british-novel-and-lacan
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This paper looks at the relationship between two British female writers, Virginia Woolf and Zadie Smith, in relation to the theories of the mirror stage and desire of the mother constructed by the prominent psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan. Both Woolf and Smith discuss identity through their characters’ reflection and social structures, and Lacan’s insight into the human psyche allows me to read these two psychological authors. These two fields, literature and psychology, parallel each other, but Lacan is clinical and Woolf and Smith are subjective. I argue in my paper that Woolf and Smith, from two different generations (one is a modernist; the other, a postmodernist), differ as writers because Smith is more interested in social structures such as race and religion when reflecting on her characters’ identities, whereas Woolf is more interested in the relationship between characters and introspection. This paper concludes that looking at British texts through a Lacanian lens is significant because it shows that there has been a shift in what is considered psychologically and sociologically relevant from Woolf’s time to ours.