Paternity and Metaphor
When, in 1956, Lacan first begins to discuss the tropes of metaphor and metonymy in detail, the example he takes to illustrate the structure of metaphor is a line from Victor Hugo's poem, Booz endormi.
This poem retells the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz; while Ruth sleeps at his feet, Boaz dreams that a tree grows out of his stomach, a revelation that he is to be the founder of a race.
In the line which Lacan quotes - "His sheaf was neither miserly nor spiteful" - the metaphoric substitution of "sheaf" for "Boaz" produces a poetic effect of signification.
Paternity is thus both the theme of the poem (its content) and also inherent in the structure of metaphor itself.
All paternity involves metaphoric substitution, and vice versa.
↑ Hugo, 1859-83: 97-9
↑ Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p.218-25; Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.377-8; Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.156-8; Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre VIII. Le transfert, 1960-61. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.158-9