A Psychoanalytical Hermeneutics of John Keats’s Verse Epistle To John Hamilton Reynolds through Julia Kristeva’s Theory of ‘Semiotic’ vs. ‘Symbolic’ Orders

Farhat Ben Amor

Abstract


My readings of John Keats’ s verse epistle To John Hamilton Reynolds (1819) have allowed me to gather the poet’s underlying wonder at the vertiginous number of visions his imagination induces whenever he succumbs to rest. The noticeable surfeit of these visions is suggested not simply to hinder the poet from enjoying the bodily and spiritual relaxation he needs. More importantly, the poet seems to be much perplexed and even is led to deplore the sheer remoteness of these visions from the world of reality. While enumerating these visions, the poet stresses the way they keep not abiding by the terms of logic, whether temporal or spatial. Therefore, the epistle documents, as well, the vain wrestles within the poet to subject these innumerable visions deterring his equanimity to the precepts of reason and to orchestrate them to order.

This paper seeks to apply Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalysis in reading Keats’s epistle. Much concentration is going to be put on the relevance of Kristeva’s psychoanalytical views in the text of the epistle. Thus, this study requires going through the theoretical elucidations of Kristeva’s notions of the ‘semiotic’ versus ‘symbolic’ orders, where the former is pre-linguistic and, therefore, maps out the child’s early life and the latter coincides with the development of language. The clash between both orders is manifested in the frequent disruption of the ‘semiotic’ (which is regulated by fluidity and absence of prohibitions whatsoever) to the seamy fabrics of the ‘symbolic’ (which is governed by the law of ‘binarism’ that requires the subject to be enlisted to a whole set of do’s and don’ts).


Keywords


chora, écriture, imagination, material sublime, organic whole, semiotic vs. symbolic orders.

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