Bernard J. Paris

Professor Emeritus

Bernard J. Paris

Bernard J. Paris (ret. 1996) received his PhD from The Johns Hopkins University in 1959 and taught at Lehigh University, Michigan State University, and the University of Florida. His primary areas of interest have been, in the order of their emergence, Victorian and comparative fiction, the psychological study of literature, Shakespeare, and the life and work of Karen Horney and her place in the history of psychoanalysis. He has received NEH and Guggenheim Fellowships and has been Visiting Professor at the Victorian Studies Centre of the University of Leicester.

His first book, Experiments in Life: George Eliot’s Quest for Values(1965) reflected his training in thematic analysis and the history of ideas. His subsequent work in literary criticism has been devoted to the development of a psychological approach to literature based on the theories of Karen Horney and other Third Force or Humanistic Psychologists, particularly Abraham Maslow. He has written seven books applying this approach to a variety of texts and critical issues: A Psychological Approach to Fiction: Studies in Thackeray, Stendhal, George Eliot, Dostoevsky, and Conrad (1974); Character and Conflict in Jane Austen’s Novels (1978); Bargains with Fate: Psychological Crises and Conflicts in Shakespeare and His Plays (1991); Character as a Subversive Force in Shakespeare: The History and the Roman Plays (1991); Imagined Human Beings: A Psychological Approach to Character and Conflict in Literature (1997); Rereading George Eliot: Changing Perspectives on Her Experiments in Life (2003); and Conrad’s Charlie Marlow: A New Approach to Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim (2005). He also edited Third Force Psychology and the Study of Literature (1986). Bargains With Fate and Imagined Human Beingshave been translated into Chinese. Four of the above-mentioned books are out ofprint but are available in electronic form via links from Professor Paris’s personal website, as are several essays and some chapters from Imagined Human Beings.

In addition to his work in literary criticism, he has written a biographical study, Karen Horney: A Psychoanalyst’s Search for Self-Understanding (1994; selected as a Notable Book by The New York Times, and since translated into German and Chinese.) In this book, he explores the relationship between Horney’s personal history and the evolution of her psychoanalytic ideas. He also tries to present a thorough account of her thought, to place it in relation to the history of psychoanalysis, and to make a case for its enduring power and importance. In the course of his research for the book, he discovered a number of unpublished essays and lectures by Horney, and edited these and her uncollected writings in two volumes for Yale University Press: The Therapeutic Process: Essays and Lectures (1999) and The Unknown Karen Horney: Essays on Gender, Culture, and Psychoanalysis (2000). In the early 1990s, he founded the International Karen Horney Society (IKHS), of which he is Director.

His 2003 study of George Eliot traces his shifting responses to her fiction over the years and uses himself as a case history to study the psychology of reader response. He also provides close readings of Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, which many think to be her masterpieces. He was a true believer in her Religion of Humanity when he wrote Experiments in Life, but now strongly disagrees with her values and with her interpretations and judgments of her characters. But, he concludes, “she is a far greater genius than I realized back then in the creation of psychological portraits of imagined human beings.”

He is presently working on a new project, Dostoevsky’s Greatest Characters: Notes From Underground, Crime And Punishment, and The Brothers Karamazov.