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The Manifestation of Susan Sontag’s Literary Theory in the Benefactor

Author LiYing
Tutor ZhangHongZuo
School Northeast Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Sontag Freud against interpretation new sensibility psychoanalysis The Benefactor
CLC
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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This thesis aims to prove that during the writing process of The Benefactor, Susan Sontag practices her own theory so that she can fight against psychoanalysis for its constant pursuit of an ultimate authoritative interpretation as well as is influenced by it. In order to prove this point, the first step is to explicate two key concepts in Sontag?s early theory, which are“against interpretation”and“new sensibility”. The next step is to discuss the relation between Sontag and Freud in their theories. Finally, the manifestation of Sontag?s theory can be found in The Benefactor, thus the above-mentioned point can be proved.There are five parts in this thesis including an introduction, three chapters and a conclusion. The introduction part contains an introduction to Sontag and her first novel The Benefactor, and a literature review of Sontag. The first chapter deals with two concepts put forward by Sontag,“against interpretation”and“new sensibility”. They form the core of Sontag?s early theory. They have been discussed from different perspectives, such as the background, their connotations and so on. The second chapter devotes itself to the relation between Sontag and Freud in their theories. There is no doubt that Sontag?s theory is against Freud?s psychoanalysis, for the latter puts all its effort together to pursue an ultimate authoritative interpretation. Sontag practices her own theory in her early stage of writing novels. Through the process, however, Sontag does borrow and adapt some of Freud?s theories, like free association and the structures of the mind. This proves that except for objection, Sontag is, to some extent, also influenced by Freud. In the third chapter, proofs of the manifestation of Sontag?s early theory can be found everywhere by a close study of The Benefactor. Through the analysis of the relation between Sontag and Freud?s theories on the basis of The Benefactor, it can be concluded that during her early stage of writing novels, Sontag uses her early theory to fight against psychoanalysis for its constant pursuit of an ultimate authoritative interpretation and is influenced by it which can be proved with some details in the novel.

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