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    Losing and finding oneself in a book: the mysterious immersive experience of reading literary fiction

    Sanders, Valerie Elizabeth (2021) Losing and finding oneself in a book: the mysterious immersive experience of reading literary fiction. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This research explores the process of immersive literary reading, seeking to understand what happens within the psyche of the reader whilst engaged with a work of fiction. Drawing on a bricolage methodology combining conceptual research, heuristic enquiry, and the innovative practice of using a novel itself as a methodology, the experience is investigated from theoretical, literary, and personal perspectives. Theoretical ideas come from a broad psychoanalytic base as well as concepts from literary theory, and the portal novel is Alain-Fournier’s Le grand Meaulnes. The researcher also analyses her own personal experience of reading, documented through the keeping of reading journals, as raw data from which to derive insight into the process. The thesis is that successful engagement in the reading of a literary novel can be a therapeutic and transformational experience, and four key paradoxes are identified: (1) that this type of reading requires a sophisticated level of literary ability, whilst at the same time the reader is required to engage in a regressed, childlike mentality, which juxtaposition is termed a sophisticated paranoid schizoid position, (2) that it is incumbent upon the reader to let go at a deep level of egoic concerns, whilst deriving simultaneously a sense of omnipotence in creating that which is being read in the imagination, (3) that as the reader loses herself in the pages of the book, she also finds herself reflected back within them and has the possibility of transformational understanding of previously unconscious aspects of herself, and (4) that while reading is an intensely private and personal undertaking (the whole process taking place within the reader’s imagination), the reader is at the point of reading connecting to humanity at large (by virtue of suspending boundaries between self and other) and specifically those who have previously read the book across the ages.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2021 14:56
    Last Modified: 27 Oct 2021 14:56


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