The Imaginary

(307 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

The French term imaginaire is used in the philosophy of Gaston Bachelard and Jean-Paul Sartre but achieved currency in Anglo-Saxon literary and cultural studies through the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan in which it functions as one of the three registers of being, the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real. The Imaginary becomes constitutive during the Mirror-Stage when the infant first identifies itself with the image it sees in a mirror. This identification is based on an alienation because in identifying with an image we forget our difference from what is in fact merely a collocation of visual data (not even, in fact, an “image”, except in our view. (Similarly when we become identified with our name (be it …

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Clark, Robert. "The Imaginary". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 January 2004
[, accessed 10 October 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Psychoanalysis