This paper explores Jean Starobinski's often tacit conception of the implied author, with a view to clarifying his intellectual legacy for literary criticism. It argues that it is plausible to trace a certain strand in the intellectual genealogy of Starobinski's literary theory from the descriptive psychology of Wilhelm Dilthey to twentieth-century psychoanalysis and phenomenology. Accordingly, the question “Who is Jean Starobinski?” is formulated in a sense which seeks to move beyond the bare facticity of biographical detail, a sense that can be expected to differentiate between scholarly and purely journalistic enquiry to ask: who, exactly, is the Jean Starobinski that we encounter in his major works—works like “The Living Eye,” and “Transparency and Obstruction”? It is from this vantage point that the discussion proceeds to clarify Starobinski's ambivalent relations to both Rousseau and Freud, and thereby to illuminate some of the tensions and nuances inherent in his notion of the implied author.

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