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From its very beginning, psychoanalysis sought to incorporate the aesthetic into its domain. Despite Joyce's deliberate attempt in his writing to resist this powerful hermeneutic, his work has been confronted by a long tradition of psychoanalytic readings. Luke Thurston argues that this very antagonism holds the key to how psychoanalytic thinking can still open up new avenues in Joycean criticism and literary theory. In particular, Thurston shows that Jacques Lacan's response to Joyce goes beyond the 'application' of theory: rather than diagnosing Joyce's writing or claiming to have deciphered its riddles, Lacan seeks to understand how it can entail an unreadable signature, a unique act of social transgression that defies translation into discourse. Thurston imaginatively builds on Lacan's work to illuminate Joyce's place in a wide-ranging literary genealogy that includes Shakespeare, Hogg, Stevenson and Wilde. This study should be essential reading for all students of Joyce, literary theory and psychoanalysis.
Luke Thurston is a Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge and has published widely on modernism, psychoanalysis and literary theory.