A leading literary critic and psychoanalyst, Julia Kristeva is one of the most significant French thinkers writing today. In this up-to-date survey of her work, John Lechte outlines fully and systematically her intellectual development. He traces it from her work on Bakhtin and the logic of poetic language in the 1960s, through her influential theories of the 'symbolic' and the 'semiotic' in the 1970s, to her analyses of horror, love, melancholy and cosmopolitanism in the 1980s. He provides an insight into the intellectual and historical context which gave rise to Kristeva's thought, showing how thinkers such as Roland Barthes, Emile Benviste and Georges Bataille have been important in stimulating her own reflections. He concludes with an overall assessment of Kristeva's work, looking in particular at her importance for feminism and postmodern thought in general. Essential reading for all those who wish to extend their understanding of this important thinker, this first full-length study of Kristeva's work will be of interest to students of literature, sociology, critical theory, feminist theory, French studies and psychoanalysis.