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In this chapter, Willis provides a long-overdue Žižekian analysis of Gaétan Soucy’s La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes (The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches), a novel whose highly figurative depiction of what Žižek would characterize as “the decline of symbolic authority” provides the literary coordinates for what Willis dubs an “aesthetics of the Real.” While a number of critics have attended to, as well as built on, Žižek’s analyses of filmic representations of the Real (especially those found in the films of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch), Willis, drawing on Žižek’s theorization of the Real as triadic in nature, instead attends to how, in representing a world that lies beyond language, gender, and, most significantly, paternal authority—in short, a world that lies beyond the Symbolic—Soucy’s metaphorical tale of hindered identity and traumatic subjectivity articulates the contours of a literary Real.

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