Leguin and Identity in Contemporary Fiction

Author: Selinger, Bernard
Synthesizes the work of "identity-theorists" such as Norman N. Holland, Heinz Lichtenstein, Bruno Bettelheim, Hans Loewald, and Margaret Mahler in an attempt to formulate a non-essentialist theory of identity formation that can be fruitfully applied to literature. The working conclusion of the synthesis is that the artist constantly works creative variations on a kind of identity theme that was established during the autistic phase of childhood development. The book then melds identity theory with more contemporary critical theory. Theorists such as Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Julia Kristeva are clearly summarized and flexibly applied to Le Guin's major fictional works, yielding fresh insights into LeGuin's work and the nature of fiction in general. This book dramatically changes the direction of scholarship on LeGuin - moves the criticism away from the usual mythological, Jungian, and thematic readings to readings which focus much more closely on the texts, aided by contemporary critical theory.


". . . this is a fluent attempt to apply contemporary psychoanalytic theory of the literary text to LeGuin's major works through Always Coming Home (1985). . . . His chapter on A Wizard of Earthsea is particularly strong. . . . Selinger's study has many virtues, not the least of which is its lucid demonstration of what insights might be gained by the application of often highly intractable theory to a writer whose work seems to epitomize the potential of science fiction to transcend the boundaries so vigilantly guarded by those both in and out of the field." - Nicholas Ruddick in Canadian Review of American Studies