What is it about?

"Lazarus" is a short story about Wanda, an unmarried teenaged girl who is discovering her autonomy. The story begins with a controversy of what her baby's name will be. She wants to name him Lazarus, and people disparage her choice. She loves words and names, and enjoys the history that is revealed through names. She self-educates, reading about geology, about rocks. She is enthusiastic about knowledge, and about life, and follows her path. She learns about the two Biblical figures named Lazarus, and, as she struggles with poverty, and the opinions of others, she takes a stance that "...nobody can tell me what to name my baby. Lazarus and I keep coming back from the dead, and we can find places where the rich man will give us bread."

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Why is it important?

The story comes from a collection of my short fiction called "Necessary Voices". Wanda's voice is a necessary voice. We can learn from her confidence in being herself, in the face of social mores. She enjoys both the every day adventure of life, and the intellectual adventure. What matters is autonomy, and the commitment to love. She doesn't experience herself as an "outcast" in the disparaging milieu in which she lives, she experiencing herself as engaged in life. There are so many young women who face choices when they discover they are pregnant. Understanding Wanda leads us to understand the experiences of young women embedded in social milieus that repress them.


I am a psychoanalyst, I teach in two psychoanalytic institutes, and I am a poet, fiction writer, and playwright. I am committed to the art of narrative both in psychoanalysis and in creative writing. To see this short story, which is fiction, in a psychoanalytic journal, underscores how creative psychoanalysis can be, and the affinity of psychoanalysis with literature and art.Sigmund Freud said, “Not I, but the poets, discovered the unconscious". “The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious. What I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied.” The Hebrew Physician/Harofe Haivre, The Thirteenth Year, edited by Moses Einhorn, dedicated to Sigmund Freud, Volume One, /1940, pp. 161-176, reported by Phillip R. Lehrman, “Freud’s Contributions to Science”, Freud in conversation. The creativity in psychoanalysis and in literature can form a meaningful dialogue, and we have the opportunity to listen, and to participate....

Merle Molofsky

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This page is a summary of: Lazarus, Psychological Perspectives, January 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/00332925.2019.1564598.
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