Psychoanalytic approaches: Critical overview
Alan Roland and Frederick Crews, among others, have provided criticism of various psychoanalytic approaches to literature. Roland objects to the correlation of literary work and daydream. The literary work, in his view, goes far beyond the author’s fantasies and the imagery of dream. Poetic metaphor and the structure of paradox are essential components of the literary work but not of dream. According to Roland, literary form must be freed from the notion that it is synonymous with the ego’s defenses. Defense is viewed as only part of form. Object-relations critics do not limit the author’s fantasies to those of a psychosexual stage, but they fail, in Roland’s view, to integrate their exploration of fantasies with what the work may mean on its highest level. In opposition to Holland’s view of the reader, Roland feels that, besides a core fantasy, a literary work possesses an abstract meaning, a total vision formally created. The relationship between these two levels should be described by the critic. In Roland’s view, the core fantasy within the reader’s mind is apparently affected by the critic’s efforts.
Crews sees as reductionist the views that Holland expresses in The Dynamics of Literary Response, although he admits that Holland is sensitive to literary form and very cautious about making an “armchair diagnosis of authors.” Holland’s reductionism lies in his view of literature as subterfuge for forbidden thoughts. Crews...
(The entire section is 577 words.)