The study examines two twenty-first century novels and films from a Lacanian perspective to argue that the interest these works have taken in what Lacan termed the ,Real’ suggests a new path for the novel and film after the era of poststructuralist postmodernism. For Lacan, the Real refers explicitly not to reality but to something that resists all symbolization and that due to its inaccessibility possesses a traumatic character. Moments of trauma as ,intrusions of the Real’, but also modes of potentiality, of excessive enjoyment, which Lacan called jouissance, and of posthumousness, paradoxically, allow us to spot this Real in our everyday reality and in a given fictional work, as contemporary Lacanian scholars such as Slavoj Žižek and Todd McGowan have detailed. Based on such new approaches to Lacan, the study argues that the focus the works under examination put on various representations of the Real indicates a shift of perspective in contemporary fiction and film away from the selfrefl exive text-centeredness of postmodern art and toward a new interest in ethical questions and the (material) conditions of reality in the twentyfi rst century. In this light, the study attests to Lacanian theory an ongoing relevance for contemporary literary and film criticism.
The Author Adina Sorian is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Augsburg. She has published on contemporary literature and fi lm, and has an essay forthcoming in Handbook of the English Novel, 1830–1900 (edited by Martin Middeke and Monika Pietrzak-Franger, De Gruyter). Her current research interests include Bakhtin and the Victorian novel.