Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism



I love literary theory!! I just finished writing my lecture on psychoanalytic criticism of children’s literature, and I must say that whilst I take the content of my lectures seriously, there are occasions when I make myself laugh because the lecture is just a little bit playful. When doing psychoanalytic criticism / analysis myself I really just draw on conceptual ideas from Lacan, situated within a feminist critique. But for my overview of approaches, I like to throw in an example of a Freudian reading of James and the Giant Peach, drawn from Lucy Rollins and Mark West’s book Psychoanalytic responses to children’s literature. In the analysis, the peach is symbolic of the mother’s womb that James seeks comfort in, and the insects represent different (and competing) parts of James’ psyche. With this in mind, the passage describing James’ entrance into the peach is actually quite risqué! I hope my students have a healthy sense of humour as they listen to my lecture. I think they may indeed get a “story they hadn’t bargained for”.

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