Not only did Sigmund Freud know literature intimately, and quote liberally from literatures of several languages, he has also inspired twentieth-century writers and philosophers, and created several schools of criticism, in literary and cultural studies. Freud was not just practising psychotherapy on his patients, helping them in difficult situations, but helping them by studying the unconscious as the basis of their problems. This book deals with Freud and psychoanalysis, and begins by analysing the 'Copernican revolution' which meant that psychoanalysis decentres the conscious mind, the ego. It shows how Freud illuminates literature, as Freud needs attention for what he says about literature. The book presents one of Freud's 'case-histories', where he discussed particular examples of analysis by examining obsessional neurosis, as distinct from hysteria. It analyses Freud on memory, in relation to consciousness, repression and the unconscious. Guilt was one of his central topics of his work, and the book explores it through several critical texts, 'Criminals from a Sense of Guilt', and 'The Ego and the Id'. The book discusses Melanie Klein, a follower of Freud, and object-relations theory, while also making a reference to Julia Kristeva. One of the main strands of thought of Jacques Lacan was the categories of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real, as well as paranoia and madness, which are linked to literature here. The book finally returns to Freud on hysteria, and examines him on paranoia in Daniel Paul Schreber, and the psychosis of the 'Wolf Man'.
How do literature and
psychoanalysis relate? The first produces the second; the second
interprets the first, the first interrogates the second. Psychoanalysis,
as an instance of critical theory, associates with Marx and Nietzsche in
analysing modernity, while Marxism and Nietzschean philosophy both
In Shirley Jackson‘s novel The Haunting of Hill House, the tropes of haunting, telepathy, and clairvoyance serve to remind us that there is more to alterity than the shattering of the autos. In Jackson‘s novel, these tropes lead us to reconsider what we mean by subjectivity for, beyond the question of consciousness, they also destabilize what Sonu Shamdasani refers to as the “singular notion of the ‘unconscious’ that has dominated twentieth century thought,” especially via Freudian psychoanalysis. By drawing upon Carl Jung‘s theory of synchronicity in relation to quantum theory, this paper argues that Jackson‘s novel challenges certain classical models of human consciousness and subjectivity as well as psychoanalytic models of interpretation.
James Baldwin and Melanie Klein in the Context
of Black Lives Matter
David W McIvor
Recent killings of unarmed black citizens are a fresh reminder of the troubled state of
racial integration in the United States. At the same time, the unfolding Black Lives
Matter protest movements and the responses by federal agencies each testify to a not
insignificant capacity for addressing social pathologies surrounding the color line. In
order to respond to this ambivalent situation, this article suggests a pairing between the
work of James Baldwin and that of the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. I will argue that we
cannot fully appreciate the depths of what Baldwin called the “savage paradox” of race
without the insights provided by Klein and object relations psychoanalysis. Conversely,
Baldwin helps us to sound out the political significance of object relations approaches,
including the work of Klein and those influenced by her such as Hanna Segal and Wilfred
Bion. In conversation with the work of Baldwin, object relations theory can help to
identify particular social settings and institutions that might allow concrete efforts
toward racial justice to take root.
This paper explores the occult relationship between modern psychoanalysis and the pre-Freudian psychoanalysis of James Hogg‘s 1824 Gothic novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Haunted by the ghosts of Mesmerism and of Calvinisms rabidly contagious religious fervour, Hogg‘s novel explodes post-Lockean paradigms of the subject for a post-Romantic British culture on the eve of the Empire. Turning back to Scotland‘s turbulent political and religious history, the novel looks forward to the problems of Empire by turning Locke‘s sense-making and sensible subject into the subject of an unconscious ripe for ideological exploitation, a subject mesmerized by the process of making sense of himself.
Sibling Rivalry in Elizabeth Gaskell‘s The Old Nurse‘s Story
Elizabeth Gaskell s The Old Nurse s Story (1852) occupies a shadowy middle ground between Gothic tale and case history. Concerning sibling rivalry and parental abuse recollected from the vantage of old age, it is both a ghost story and a narrative of maternal absence, paternal domination, transference, and the return of the repressed. Using both psychoanalysis and Gothic genre criticism, this essay traces, in miniature, the Victorian movement from spirits to sexual psychology.
The Motif of the Fecal Child in Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein
This essay argues that Victor Frankenstein‘s project, the creature that results from it, and the disgust inspired by the creature in all who behold him, all allude consistently and coherently to the infantile sexual theory of fecal reproduction. The fantasy of fecal reproduction, a widespread feature of male god creation myths, is integral to the structure of patriarchy, but is usually subsumed into the normative family structure in the course of the oedipal crisis and its resolution. Victor Frankenstein‘s violent repudiation of his creature stems from Frankenstein‘s inability - or stubborn refusal - to negotiate the transition between the oral-anal fantasy and the normative genital model. The violent disparagement directed at the creature by all who see him testifies to the social disruption threatened by this unresolved tension between the pre-oedipal economy, based on gift-giving and womb-envy, and the oedipal economy of rivalry, castration anxiety, and patriarchal appropriation.
This article proposes a reading of Le Fanu‘s ‘Carmilla’ in relation to the ideas of the French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche, particularly Laplanche‘s notion of the enigmatic signifier. Laplanche refigures the inauguration of human sexuality as a failure on the infant‘s behalf to meaningfully translate the enigmatic messages received from the adult world, which, Laplanche argues, are freighted with unconscious sexual meaning. Unable to fully metabolise these enigmatic signifiers, the infant is prone to trauma, as the un-translated residues of the adults address sink into the unconscious to form powerful unconscious fantasies that continue to trouble the subject. A parallel is drawn here with Laura‘s relationship with the mysterious but alluring Carmilla, whose enigmatic desire both fascinates and repels Le Fanu‘s narrator from the moment of Laura‘s childhood trauma but whose enigmatic language remains indecipherable. Carmilla herself is finally seen as the allegorical figure of the Gothic itself: profoundly enigmatic and potentially traumatising.
This essay draws on Julia Kristeva‘s concept of ‘borderline’ experience, a feature of psychotic discourse, to examine the representation of madness, split personality and sociopathic behaviour in James Hogg‘s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and the contemporary, muted Gothic of John Burnside‘s The Locust Room (2001). The main characteristics of borderline experience - a concern with authenticity and the proper name, with uncertain boundaries between inside and outside, truth and delusion - are central concerns in Hogg and Burnside, and the essay assesses the value of borderline discourse for a critical reading of madness in Gothic.