Simone de Beauvoir's fiction : a psychoanalytic rereading
Simone de Beauvoir's fiction is still a largely unexplored field. This thesis offers new readings of her whole fictional corpus, using as critical lenses Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis in an ironically polemical move : vehemently anti-Freudian at the beginning of her career, Beauvoir denied the validity of his theories. Revealingly, however, her fiction tells a different tale. It is this untold Beauvoirean story I set out to tell in my study, which unfolds on three levels of critical interpretation. Firstly, using her own autobiographical admissions I examine her resolute resistance to psychoanalysis and offer possible reasons for her initial violent disavowal of its concepts. Secondly, I trace her explicit engagement with psychoanalysis as a clinical discipline through a chronological examination of her fiction, and, finally, I employ psychoanalytic literary theory as a magnifying optic onto her entire fictional output, thus offering new interpretations of her most underread texts. My conclusions are as follows : Beauvoir's resistance to psychoanalysis in fact stemmed from her own experience; by denying its value, she could also deny her own vulnerability, since the deep psychological damage caused by her unhappy childhood was still present in the strata of her own unconscious. Secondly, the thematic development of her fiction parallels the gradual acceptance of psychoanalysis as a valid clinical discipline following her self-analysis throughout her autobiographical creations - in her final two works, childhood and madness are laced together in a potent thematic explosion of her own articulated neuroses. And finally, the obsessive textual patternings betray her own repressed fears : throughout every fictional text, Oedipal triangles, fragmented identity and psychological breakdown play against each other against the backdrop of the symbiotic lure of idealised love. I thus hope to prove the relevance psychoanalysis has with regard to Beauvoir, despite her professed resistance to it.