Everyday otherness : the edited and unedited Raymond Carver

Humble, Catherine. 2015. Everyday otherness : the edited and unedited Raymond Carver. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is a reading of Raymond Carver’s edited and unedited writing with respect to unsymbolised mental spaces. Carver’s edited writing is characterized by clipped sentences and solid silences and is often defined as ‘minimalist’. His unedited writing is more garrulous and sprawling, which has led critics to label it ‘realist’. I consider how these different forms of language present different kinds of resistances to clear meaning. I read these resistances in terms of different mentally unsymbolised spaces – unconscious spaces that resist symbolisation. In doing so, I consider the psychoanalytic thought of Lacan, along with Laplanche and Green, as well as Blanchot and Attridge’s writing on literary otherness.
In the curt sentences juxtaposed with hard silences of Carver’s edited, so- called minimalist writing, I consider how highly fixed meanings are split from radically unsymbolised spaces. Here I find a theoretical echo in my reading of Lacan’s originary linguistic castration – his account of the first traumatic linguistic cut that is inflicted on the young infant, splitting the infant between a pre-linguistic state and a state of meaning. I suggest that Carver’s edited, minimalist language stages this original cutting into being. His language performs the very way in which everyday language inflicts a certain cut and his writing takes this cut to an extreme.
In the more sprawling so-called ‘realist’ language of the unedited Carver, the unsymbolised and meaning entwine rather than split. Bringing together Carver, Lacan, and Blanchot, in the unedited realist prose I conceive unsymbolised spaces as held, sheltered, even quietly hidden but not annulled by linguistic meaning. Carver’s unedited writing stages psychical otherness as quietly imbricated in the texture of language, fostering a more bodily expression of the unsymbolised.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Raymond Carver, Gordon Lish, Jacques Lacan, Freud, everyday, otherness, psychoanalysis, Tess Gallagher, minimalism, realism, alterity, Blanchot, Attridge, Laplanche

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


30 April 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

22 Jul 2015 14:19

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 09:11



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