The Mirage of the Mirror: A Lacanian Reading of Nadine Gordimer’s Loot

Fatemeh Pourjafari, Leila Anjomshoaa


As a South African female writer, the works of Nadine Gordimer have been frequently discussed through either the post-colonial or feminist principles of criticism. However, another way to interpret and evaluate these works, particularly her short fiction, can be the application of psychoanalytic approaches, which have been almost often neglected by the literary reviewers. This study aims at a new reading of Loot, a very short story by Gordimer, by employing the theories of Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst. Using Lacan’s theories of the structure of the mind and it’s division into three stages of the Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic, and also the individual’s quest to reach the fullness of the primal sense of unity and safety, which is lost by his entrance into social order, this reading intends to interpret the protagonist’s behavior and reactions in different situations of life. Besides viewing the different stages in the formation of the protagonist’s self, the study focuses on the formal structure of the work in its narrative method of story within story, and deviation from the standard language of story-telling on the basis of its Lacanian interpretation as a sign of the individual’s inability to cope with the social dictates of the Symbolic order.        


Gordimer; Lacan; the Real; the Imaginary; the Symbolic

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