Psychopoetics of Lexicography: Johnson with Lacan

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Abstract

The generation of a lexicographical authority provides a cogent instance of the sujet supposé savoir (SSS), as in the case of Samuel Johnson, in that Johnson is considered to be a single-handed lexicographer, a person who is supposed to know. This conception of Johnson involves the SSS, as it implicates the fantasy of being able to master language rather than the reverse. Using the writings of J. Lacan (1955), direct comparison is made between the way literary critics relate to Johnson and the way an analysand relates to the psychoanalyst in the transference. A conflict is suggested between the assumptions of lexicography and the lively variation of poetry. In the case of Johnson, by making the poetic of language overwhelming, he makes himself into a nothing, revealing his own reaction to the English language to be a transferential relation that posits the SSS at the place of the Other.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-28
JournalLiterature and Psychology
Volume37
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991

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