Automaton and Tyche in Postmodern British Novel: A Critical Treatment of Chance in Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion

Document Type: Original Article


1 Islamic Azad University of Tehran Central Branch

2 Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran.


The present paper aims address the Lacanian concepts of the tyche (tuche) and the automaton in Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion (1987), and to explore the way the whole novel is based on moments of chance, peril, and jeopardy which are traceable in the transformation of automaton into tyche. Illuminating the track of automaton into tyche, the study endeavors to compare reading women’s writing style to experiencing tyche while going through other styles could be comparable to an automaton. A historiographic metafiction, The Passion is divided into four seemingly unrelated sections connected by the elements of chance and calamity. Via experiencing traumatic happenings, the characters face the incursion of the Real into the Symbolic Order (Tyche), considered beyond the determinations of the Symbolic. Observing the mass slaughter and deplorable death of his comrades, Henri is unable to return to the Symbolic and is obliged to remain in the asylum as a mentally disordered person. On the contrary, Villanelle manages to free herself from the post-traumatic stress and commences a new life.