Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that literature—or at least certain kinds of literature—facilitates mentalization. Book reading shares some of the same features as mind reading. Psychoanalysis, via the work of Hanna Segal and others, has been interested in the differences between escapist literature and literature that encourages genuine psychological engagement. This chapter engages that issue via the lens of mentalization. It focuses specifically on literary form rather than on content, and examines the ways in which some kinds of literary form facilitate mentalizing capacities. More narrowly, it shows how different kinds of literary techniques—the free indirect discourse employed by Jane Austen, the tight structure of the sonnet form—enable different mentalizing abilities and develop our capacity for self-reflection.

Keywords: psychoanalysis, mentalization, self-reflection, literature, literary form, free indirect discourse, sonnet, Jane Austen

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.