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Himes, M. (2001). Beyond the Pleasure of the Text: The Writer and the Reader. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 24(3):335-356.

(2001). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 24(3):335-356

Beyond the Pleasure of the Text: The Writer and the Reader

Mavis Himes, Ph.D.

This paper explores the relationship between the reader and the writer by raising the questions: For whom does the writer write? Do all writers require a personal reader and/or general readership? What, if anything, does the reader contribute to the interpretation of a text? Beginning with the thesis that writing is similar to the psychoanalytic process of free-floating associations motivated by inner impulses, it suggests that this is not enough to explain the desire of the writer, for the writer is never without a reader, either real or fantasized. The paper contextualizes this issue by providing a brief overview of the changes in literary criticism and interpretation as influenced by postmodern preoccupations with language. It goes on to describe Lacan's introduction of the relationship between the Subject and the Other. In the paper, it is argued that in the same way that the mother is the first “reader” who interprets the child's cries and introduces the child into the world of language, so there is a parallel between the writer and the reader as “other”. The writing keeps the reader connected to the reading other and vice versa. It is

further proposed that there are always three levels of readers: the public reader, or general audience; the editor, or critic; and most significantly, the private/inner reader with whom there is an unconscious bond. It is suggested that it is to this latter reader that the text is directed.

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