Psychoanalysis, Language, and the Body of the Text
- Author(s): Gliserman, Martin
- Publisher / Date: U Press of Florida, 1996
The growing field of "body studies," which examine the relationship between corporeal experience and the mind, includes scholars from the areas of psychological literary criticism and semiotics as well as psychoanalysis and gender studies. Combining contemporary linguistics and psychoanalysis, this work focuses on how the body emerges in the novel. In particular, it looks at the role that language plays in integrating the body and the mind. By drawing on language theory forged by Noam Chomsky and on the body awareness articulated by Sigmund Freud and others, Professor Martin Gliserman discovers that the presence of the body is the core phenomenon of the novel. He scrutinizes the syntax of the novel's text (the arrangement of words in sentences, paragraphs, and chapters) as bodily gestures in a range of works that include erotic novels as well as those with themes of violence. Concentrating on primal bodily pain, he examines four novels chosen to span the issues of history, gender, and race: Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, and David Bradley's Chaneysville Incident. In each he reveals a primitive body fraught with desire that is distorted by fear, pain, and conflict. For Gliserman, words have a double life--they generate and fulfill our narrative lust; they also "live in another (deconstructed, synchronic, slipped) universe of discourse." In this work he unlaces language from the body and discovers a common, existential flesh.