Neurosis and Narrative: The Decadent Short Fiction of Proust, Lorrain, and Rachilde

By Renée A. Kingcaid | Go to book overview

6
Neurosis and
Nostalgia
"Decadent"
Desire?

In his 1980 Goncourt Prize-winning novel, Le jardin d'acclimatation ( Cronus' Children in Howard Girven's 1986 translation), Yves Navarre suggests the bankruptcy of psychoanalysis as meta- language in the late twentieth century. "The murder of the father," an eldest son explains to his girlfriend, "this lovely Oedipus so much in style this century, is only one more idea to shore up the family as it is, to reinforce the idea it has and always will have of itself" (281-82; my translation). Navarre's thesis is that in our time psychoanalysis has become so much a part of everyday discourse that it has lost its explanatory power, its astonishing ability to change things in the psyche just by talking about them. No longer a means of evasion from society, the family, and conventional language, psychoanalysis is demystified in Navarre; for him, it entails the weary acceptance of the status quo against the allure of the unknown, the repressed, the unconscious. For Navarre, the real revolution is silence.

Navarre's attempts to debunk psychoanalysis serve a specific purpose within a body of fiction that he intends as an explicit rejection of bourgeois society. 1 The rejection of psychoanaylsis is certainly not unique to Navarre among late twentieth-century writers and, indeed, is an important organizing principle for his work. Yet one cannot help feeling that Navarre is too disabused of psychoanalysis; his personal quarrel with language and society obscures the fact that much more remains to be said about the kinds of evasion permitted by psychoanalytic language, particularly in its confrontation with literature.

-145-

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