This essay argues that reading involves a form of unconscious psychic work that has the potential to deeply affect and transform the reader. Recent discussions about the practice of reading shunned psychoanalysis because of its alleged reliance on a suspicious epistemology rooted in the Freudian‐Lacanian framework. But object‐relations theory offers an alternative paradigm, as Eve Sedgwick knew when she proposed the concept of “reparative reading.” This essay looks to post‐Kleinian developments in psychoanalysis, in particular the work of Wilfred Bion and the contemporary Bionians, to describe reading as a creative, quasi‐intersubjective process, constituted by the unique match of the psychic demands made by a text and a reader's ability to work with those demands.

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