The Empathic Reader: A Study of the Narcissistic Character and the Drama of the Self

Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1989 - 204 páginas
In a series of important studies, American psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut focused attention on a fundamental aspect of human behavior: the desire each person feels for a sense of relationship with and empathic responsiveness from others. This book offers the first sustained application of Kohut's work to the study of literature and sheds new light on the complex nature of interactions between texts and readers.

J. Brooks Bouson investigates nine representative "narcissistic" characters from works by Atwood, Bellow, Conrad, Dotosevsky, Kafka, Lessing, Mann, and Woolf. Combining a careful examination of individual characters and texts with an analysis of the critical commentaries they have generated, Bouson makes us aware of the narcissistic dramas encoded in texts, dramas that are often unconsciously replicated by critics in their interpretive narratives. "In an essential way," Bouson writes, "the meaning of literary work grows out of the empathic event that occurs between the reader and the text."

The book establishes a place for Kohut's self psychology in the study of literature and provides a refreshing perspective on the empathic dynamics of the reading and critical processes.

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Reading Process
Artist in Manns Death in Venice
Tragic Woman
of the Broken Self in Woolfs Mrs Dalloway
in Atwoods Lady Oracle
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Acerca del autor (1989)

J. Brooks Bouson is the Assistant Chair of the English Department at Layola University of Chicago. Her specialties are Modern British literature, psychoanalysis and literature, women's literature, and history of feminist criticism.

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