A Lacanian Analysis of Paul Auster's New York Trilogy

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Fragmented selves: A Lacanian Reading of Auster’s The New York Trilogy
The concept of fragmented self was first introduced by Freud through his model of three part psyche, namely ego, id and super-ego, and later modified by Jacque Lacan, the famous postmodern psychoanalyst. The split of subject is one of the most appealing concepts in the postmodern literature. By assimilating the structure of unconscious to that of language, Lacan bridges between psychoanalysis and linguistics and hence makes a new interdisciplinary field of study. The splitting of self that Freud was considered to be merely psycho-physical is in Lacanian term an alienation that occurs in language. This alienation happens as a consequence of the
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The symbolic order acts on the basis of binary oppositions and differentiation and children learn the meaning of certain words by differentiating them from other words. They also differentiate between the male and female and form their identity around the cultural binary oppositions that are reflected in the language. The realm of language is the realm of separation. Now if the child wants something he/ she has to utter a word to satisfy his/her desire. According to Lacan in the system of language because the signs do not reach to an ultimate signifier, men never get to the complete and serene (though unreal) situation of the imaginary order and during his life he is searching for it and tries to fulfill that lack but the lack is never compensated for. Father stands for norm and social laws of the symbolic order and these social rules are reflected in the language. The Real order which is the last phase of Lacan’s three part psyche, is full of object petit a, that act as symbols of lack. “We can never know the Real, because it can never be fully represented- it is beyond language” (Bertens 161). Language according to Lacan is the cause of our fragmentation and literature is capable of giving joussance because it takes us back to the imaginary order when there were no binary oppositions and the self was complete in its own reflection.

The New York Trilogy: A Lacanian Reading Christopher Donovan in his “Postmodern Counter-narratives” contends

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