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Paris, B.J. (1978). Horney's Theory and the Study of Literature. Am. J. Psychoanal., 38(4):343-353.

(1978). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 38(4):343-353

Other Voices

Horney's Theory and the Study of Literature

Bernard J. Paris

I have been using Horney's theory since 1964; and I believe that as a tool of literary, biographical, and cultural analysis, it is at least as powerful as the theories of Freud, Jung, and Erikson, which have had more influence. I have employed Horney's theory in two books — A Psychological Approach to Fiction,1 which appeared in 1974, and Character and Conflict in lane Austen's Novels,2 which will be published this year. In A Psychological Approach to Fiction, I introduced Horney's theory into literary criticism in a systematic way, applying it to novels by Thackeray, Stendhal, George Eliot, Dostoevsky, and Conrad, and showing how the theory helps us to understand both the leading characters of these works and their authorial personae or implied authors. In my book on Jane Austen, I again studied the major characters from a Horneyan perspective, and I concluded with a psychological analysis of Jane Austen's personality as it can be inferred from all of her works. I am currently writing a book on Shakespeare — Bargains with Fate: A Psychological Approach to Shakespearean Tragedy — in which I argue that the central characters are in a state of psychological crisis, which leads to their destruction, because of a breakdown of their predominant solutions, with the accompanying value systems, world views, conceptions of human nature, and bargains with fate. I have published Horneyan analyses of works by Shakespeare,3 Dostoevsky,4 Hardy,5 and Bellow6; and in the classroom, I have used Horney's theory to study such authors as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Milton, Richardson, Carlyle, Dickens, the Brontës, Meredith, Ibsen, Flaubert, Balzac, Gide, Camus, Hawthorne, Melville, James, Malamud, and Barth.

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