Lacan and Fantasy Literature

Portents of Modernity in Late-Victorian and Edwardian Fiction


Eschewing the all-pervading contextual approach to literary criticism, this book takes a Lacanian view of several popular British fantasy texts of the late 19th century such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, revealing the significance of the historical context; the advent of a modern democratic urban society in place of the traditional agrarian one. Moreover, counter-intuitively it turns out that fantasy literature is analogous to modern Galilean science in its manipulation of the symbolic thereby changing our conception of reality. It is imaginary devices such as vampires and ape-men, which in conjunction with Lacanian theory say something additional of the truth about – primarily sexual – aspects of human subjectivity and culture, repressed by the contemporary hegemonic discourses.
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Biographical Note

Josephine Sharoni, Ph.D (2015) University of Kent, UK, is an independent scholar working at the intersection of Lacanian theory and literature. Her article on Joyce and Lacan appeared in the JML Summer 2016.

Review Quotes

"An impressive academic book that evinces a scrupulous attention to all existing scholarship and a thorough mastery of both Lacanian psychoanalysis and fantasy literature. The author deploys Lacanian psychoanalysis in a subtle yet thoroughly erudite fashion in order to illuminate the literary texts in a way that no previous scholars have done." - Todd McGowan, Associate Professor of Film Studies,University of Vermont

"Sharoni plumbs the heights and depths of late-Victorian and Edwardian fantasy. If we knew that She was one of Freud's favorite novels we grasp only now why Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker and Rider Haggard had anticipated Lacan and Žižek in their Freudian re-elaborations and offered us so many haunting modern fantasies." - Jean-Michel Rabaté, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Pennsylvania

Table of contents

Introduction: Vampires and Ape-Men: A Lacanian Reading of British Fantasy Fiction, 1886–1914
 The Return of the Primordial Father: Freud’s Totem and Taboo and the Late Victorian and Edwardian Fantasy Novel
 The Outline of the Book

1 The Historical Background: The Modernization of Britain 1870–1914

2 Types of Literary Criticism: The Contextual versus the Critical Approach
 2.1 Lacanian Psychoanalysis, Literary Criticism, and the Question of Evidence

3 Lacan’s Reconsideration of Totem and Taboo
 3.1  Totem and Taboo and Oedipus Rex
 3.2 The Name-of-the-Father
 3.3 The Thing ( Das Ding) and Object a
 3.4 Anxiety and Object a
 3.5  Père ou Pire: Father or Worse
 4 ‘Yet Another Interpretation’

4 Science and the Thing: Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World
 1 Introduction
 2 The Plot
 3  Totem and Taboo and the Doubling of the Primal Father
 4 The Abdication of the Father
 5 The Father-Out-of-Law
 6 The Return of the Courtly Love Tradition
 7 Courtly Love as Art and the (Scientific) Need to See for Oneself
 8 The ‘Larger than Life’ Scientist
 9 Lacan and Sublimation
 10 Science and Civilisation
 11 The Ending of the Novel: The Use of Beauty
 12 Courtly Loave, the Lady and the Baby Pterodactyl

5 The Missing Name-of-the-Father: She
 1 Introduction
 2 The Plot of She
 3  She and ‘Totem and Taboo’
 4 The Fantasy Space and the Absence
 5 The Asexual Primal Father
 6 A Land Where the Names of Fathers are Missing
 7 The Absence of the (Normal) Sexual Relationship
 8 The Father’s Bequest to His Son
 9 Myth, Fantasy and Realism
 10 Conclusion

6 The Recuperation of the Thing: ‘The Horror of the Heights’
 1 Introduction
 2 The Symbolic, the Real and the Thing
 3 The Danger of the Thing
 4 The Social versus a Deadly Solipsistic Enjoyment
 5 The Primal Father Who Enjoys
 6 The Return to the Greek Myths
 7 The Summons of the Real

7 The Name-of-the-Science: The Invisible Man
 1 Introduction
 2 The Isolation of the Individual in Modern Urban Society
 3 The Invisible Man as Primal Father
 4 Invisibility and the Anonymity of the City
 5 Beyond the Law
 6 The Impossibility of a ‘Special, Solitary Enjoyment’
 7 The Cancellation of the Name-of-the-Father
 8 The Impossible Existence
 9 ‘In the Country of the Blind the One-eyed Man is King’
 10 The Name-of-Science

8 The Re-inscription of the Name-of-the-Father: Dracula
 1 The Plot
 2 Lacanian Readings of Dracula
 3  Dracula as ‘Totem and Taboo’
 4 The Fantasy Area: Transylvania and the Loss of the Symbolic Grid
 5 Dracula’s Castle and Freud’s Reception Hall
 6 Dracula in the Castle as Jonathan Harker’s Double
 7 Van Helsing and the Return of the Master
 8 The Ambiguity of the Master Figure




Students of psychoanalytic/literary theory in cultural context, Lacan and Žižek studies. Graduate and undergraduates studying gothic/fantasy literature. Literature and cultural studies sections of academic libraries. General reader of cultural studies.


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