Charles Mauron  

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Charles Mauron (1899 - 1966) was a French literary critic.


In 1963, Charles Mauron conceives a structured method to analyse literary works. The study implies four different phases.

1) The creative process is akin to dreaming awake: as such, it is a mimetic, and cathartic, representation of an unconscious impulse or desire that is best expressed and revealed by metaphors and symbols.

2) Then, the juxtaposition of a writer's works leads the critic to define symbolical themes.

3) These metaphorical networks are significant of a latent inner reality.

4) They point at an obsession just as dreams can do. The last phase consists in linking the writer's literary creation to his own personal life.

The author cannot be reduced to a ratiocinating self: his own more or less traumatic biographical past, the cultural archetypes that have suffused his "soul" ironically contrast with the conscious self, The chiasmic relation between the two tales may be seen as a sane and safe acting out. A basically unconscious sexual impulse is symbolically fulfilled in a positive and socially gratifying way, a process known as Sublimation.

Mimesis and literary creation

Mimesis is thus thought to be a means of perceiving the emotions of the characters on stage or in the book; or the truth of the figures as they appear in sculpture or in painting; or the emotions as they are being configured in music, and of their being recognised by the onlooker as part of their human condition.

Mimesis as opposed to catharsis are two basic notions on which Freud relies to explain the psychological intricacy of the relation between the author and his work, the hero and the reader/spectator as the process of literary creation is akin to that of dreaming awake. Charles Mauron starts from this fundamental theory to propose a structured method to analyse the unconscious roots and purpose of artistic creation. Identification and empathy are unconscious dynamic processes that account for the acting out of taboos. The creator and the reader/spectator symbolically identify and expurgate similar repressed desires, whether they be biographical or archetypal. Thus, when we read about Proust's oral emotions reminding him of his aunt Leonie, we share a similar affect. The hero is but an avatar of the artist's double.

See also

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