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Title: The ghosts of naturalism : Zola and Maupassant : sight, self, fiction and the feminine
Author: Griffiths, K.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2003
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Psychoanalysis and Naturalism both revolve around concepts of the mirror and its relation to print. However, the reflective textual surfaces of Naturalism are conventionally placed in diametric opposition to those of psychoanalysis, as Lacan’s notions of realities constructed by the mirror are invoked to deride the ‘naiveté’ of Naturalism’s belief in a given world and self unproblematically reflected in the mirror. My thesis undermines this antithetical reading of psychoanalysis and Naturalism. These two movements, born of the same era, are locked in a fascinating play of reflections as Zola and Maupassant anticipate, evaluate and even elaborate the theories of subjectivity which Lacan formulates a century later. Anticipating Lacan’s ‘mirror stage’, Zola and Maupassant present the self and its world not as given entities passively reflected in their works, but rather a textual artefacts actively constructed by them. They represent subjectivity and reality as scripts printed on the ‘mirror’ that is the reader. Moreover, both are fascinated, as twentieth-century feminist Luce Irigaray will be, by the gendered nature of this process. Within Naturalism, the self which writes itself is invariably masculine, whilst the reflective gaze which reads and ratifies it is feminine. The place afforded to femininity is thus an ambiguous one. It is necessarily present in order to see the masculine subject, inevitably absent in that it may not itself be seen. It is in the myriad of Naturalist feminine ghosts that this notion of feminine half-presence, half-absence is best conveyed. Naturalism, with its aspirations to supreme realism, is suffused with, and predicated upon, hosts of feminine spectres.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available