This article is a psychoanalytic and feminist reading of Bertha Harris’s novel Lover, a text that deserves wider critical scrutiny and close reading for the theoretical implications it initiates. The novel presents an understanding of what it means to be both a woman and a lover, and it indicates the ways that these two ideas are intertwined. Although it was written in 1976, Lover portrays innovative feminist performances of subject which remain relevant to contemporary feminist readers. The subject this novel envisions is one who is able to enact a seduction that was unavailable to traditional conceptions of self under the dominant framework of Western culture. This article considers how the novel deploys twins and mirrors to complicate the process of mimesis and delves into the symbolism implied by the novel’s references to Medusa, Saint Veronica, and the Hemorrhissa—the biblical woman who was healed of an issue of blood by Christ. In this article, the author takes into account the novel’s negotiation of the fear and horror associated with the female body through postmodern artistic parody and excess. This article finds that Lover presents a version of self that is created by the process of reflection and artistic creation. Through its interaction with the nexuses at which artistic creation and sexuality intersect with both Greek and Christian myths, this novel reassembles a vision of what it means to be a woman.

Date of publication

Spring 4-22-2019

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Anett Jessop, Phd., Carolyn Tilghman, PhD., Hui Wu, PhD.


Master of Arts