It is unlikely that Jacques Lacan and Alice Munro were ever aware of each other's work.
Yet, because of Munro's intuitive grasp of the complexities of human subjectivity and her ability to articulate subtleties and ambiguities, her fiction shares many of the insights of Lacan's theoretical advancements of the same period.
They are both concerned with bringing the obscure undercurrents of the psyche to light. Jennifer Murray's Reading Alice Munro with Jacques Lacan brings the works of the writer and the psychoanalyst into dialogue, offering innovative interpretations of a selection of Munro's stories.
Approached from a Lacanian perspective, a close reading of Munro's texts reveals the libidinal energy at the heart of the stories and offers particular insight into aspects such as shame and humiliation - feelings that Munro presents with disconcerting acuity.
Taking into account stories both of childhood and of adult experiences, Murray analyses the child's bewilderment as she confronts the incomprehensibility of parental injunctions and symbolic functions, while stories about women later in life speak of subjectivity in the field of relationships, where desire, and love are central concerns. Including extended reflections on fantasy, sublimation, persistence of purpose, transmission, love, and the roles of both paternal and maternal figures in Munro's work, Reading Alice Munro with Jacques Lacan also reshapes literary debate on feminine subjectivity and sexuality.