'The Return of The Repressed': Uncovering Family Secrets in Zola's Fiction. An Interpretation of Selected Novels

Rita Codsi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This project differs from characteristic expectations of Zola’s fiction. It takes a different direction in the analysis of selected novels. This study considers that the novelist kept secrets which he obliquely represented in the narratives of the chosen novels. It shows that the secrets are embodied in the Rougon-Macquart and other novels. This examination investigates La Fortune des Rougon, La Curée, La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret, La Bête humaine, le Docteur Pascal as well as Thérèse Raquin, Madeleine Férat and Vérité and demonstrates that these novels belong to the author’s sexual anxiety and insecurities. These novels provide a wealth of information and merit to be placed in the realm of psychoanalytical criticism because the language they engage with opens the door to the ‘return of the repressed’. This project adopts principally four psychoanalytical theories and shows how they operate in Zola’s language: it applies Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok’s theory of psychic development, essentially the concept of the phantom, as well as Sigmund Freud’s and Jacques Lacan’s theories of infantile sexuality.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Thompson, Hannah, Supervisor
  • Davis, Colin, Supervisor
Award date1 Apr 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


  • psychoanalysis
  • Zola
  • Fiction
  • Rougon-Macquart
  • Deconstruction
  • Return of the Repressed
  • Haunting
  • Ghost-writing

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