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'.
This book joins together Shakespeare and Proust as the great writers of love to show that love is always anachronistic, and never more so when it is homosexual. Drawing on Nietzsche, Freud, Heidegger, Derrida, Blanchot and Levinas and Deleuze, difficult but essential theorists of the subject of ‘being and time’ and ‘time and the other’, it examines why speculation on time has become so crucial within modernity. Through the related term ‘anachronism’, the book considers how discussion of time always turns into discussion of space, and how this, too, can never be quite defined. It speculates on chance and thinks of ways in which a quality of difference within time—heterogeneity, anachronicity—is essential to think of what is meant by ‘the other’. The book examines how contemporary theory considers the future and its relation to the past as that which is inescapable in the form of trauma. It considers what is meant by ‘the event’, that which is the theme of all post-Nietzschean theory and which breaks in two conceptions of time as chronological.
This chapter engages with Jacques Lacan's influential 'return to Freud', and that requires engaging with some Freud Sigmund texts: The Interpretation of Dreams, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, 'Instincts and Their Vicissitudes' and Beyond the Pleasure Principle. In 1934, Lacan joined the Société psychanalytique de Paris (SPP), which was part of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA). Lacan's essay is fascinated by how the self formed in the mirror stage relates to the other. The 'symbolic order', a phrase from Lévi-Strauss, means language taken as a system, or structure of signs which the subject is brought into, under the authority of the father. Lacan discusses it in 'The Function and Field of Speech and Language'. Shoshana Felman emphasises that Lacan returns to Freud as to a master who knows that there is a blank in knowledge, which is the unconscious, and which Lacan images in the purloined letter.
This chapter contains examples of attempts at criticism inspired by Sigmund Freud. The first uses Freud to consider a poem by William Blake, the second to interpret a familiar Sherlock Holmes short story. Freud compares Oedipus with Hamlet, and with Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, for the significance of parricide; but, in Blake, aggression toward the parents seems equalled by a perception of the parents' aggression. Freud discusses the ambivalence of people's feelings about themselves and each other, liking to hate and hating to like, having unconscious emotions ('affects'), and in doing so, follows Blake. The coincidence of dates between Holmes and Freud and the similarity of their methods are significant: detective and psychoanalyst both work by looking for clues, traces of the past.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers Sigmund Freud's 'Copernican revolution' to supplement Copernicus and Darwin by Marx, who declared that thinking was not produced by autonomous individuals: rather, 'the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas'. It explains how Freud illuminates literature, and makes for a very full reading of it. The book begins with one of Freud's 'case-histories', where he discussed particular examples of analysis. It discusses one of Freud's most exciting followers, Melanie Klein, and object-relations theory. The book talks about the role of the mother in psychoanalysis. It also talks about Jacques Lacan, first through the main strands of his thought: the categories of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real, then, on paranoia, and madness, linking to modernist literature.
This chapter begins with three of Sigmund Freud's 'case-histories': Dora, diagnosed as hysterical; Schreber, a paranoid schizophrenic, and the Wolf Man (a case of infantile neurosis), in order to approach Jacques Lacan on paranoia and psychosis. Commenting on Dora, who was neurotic, and non-psychotic, Lacan says that psychosis requires 'disturbances of language', which makes it exceed paranoia. Freud makes Schreber an instance of paranoia, using for evidence, virtually, only the Memoirs, which he reads as a text. He examines his hypochondria, and feelings of being persecuted by certain people including Flechsig, the 'soul-murderer', and his delusional ideas, including believing that he had direct contact with God. The difference between Freud and Michel Foucault becomes key to reading modern literature. It seems that madness becomes not a danger for the writer but a condition that attends writing, as though writing had become madness, a marker of alienation.
This chapter charts how Sigmund Freud considered memory, as one of the processes working through the subject. In Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis, about the 'Rat Man', Freud writes a modernist novella: the portrait of a young man. As the analysis proceeds, so 'transference' happens: the Rat Man dumps on to Freud the characteristics of his dead father, giving his fears an objective force. Freud thinks of the Rat Man's obsessions taking the form of 'distortion by omission or ellipsis', and in doing so draws attention to the point that psychoanalysis works by observation of language, that is its interest, and how it connects with literature. Freud's Project for a Scientific Psychology, which influenced all his work, especially The Interpretation of Dreams, and Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Both Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida commented on the Project.
Melanie Klein, unlike other psychoanalysts, makes no distinction between introjection and incorporation. The infant incorporates, introjects, what it perceives as the mother's qualities, which become therefore inner objects, good and bad, within the self, as it projects bad and good objects on to the mother. The Fort! Da! game is essential material for Klein. The child in Klein alternates between the paranoid-schizoid and the depressive positions. Klein's point about 'projection' is that it involves the child splitting itself, so that the good, or the bad parts are separated from the self, and go into the other: it is a schizoid position. The interest in different forms of creativity associates with the relationship between Klein and 'object relations' psychoanalysts: Fairbairn, already mentioned, whose work was particularly taken up by Harry Guntrip, and Donald Winnicott, whose work was adopted by Masud Khan.
In 'Some Characters Met With in Psychoanalytic Work', Sigmund Freud discusses some 'surprising traits of character' which he has detected in his patients. Freud's speculation on woman's childlessness evokes the third character, Rebecca West, the free-thinking woman in Ibsen's play Rosmersholm , partly complicit in the suicide of Beata, Johannes Rosmer's first wife. Freud writes a third section, 'Criminals from a Sense of Guilt', whose argument, while short, is fascinating: criminal deeds attempt to mitigate a sense of guilt. Freud continues to work with guilt in essays published in the 1920s. They include 'The Ego and the Id' and 'Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety'. Freud introduces another distinction, in referring to a differentiation within the ego by which it narcissistically looks at itself. He had considered narcissism when discussing the artist and creativity, in 'Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood', and further in 'On Narcissism, an Introduction'.
This chapter explores how literature and psychoanalysis relate. Psychoanalysis, as an instance of critical theory, associates with Marx and Nietzsche in analysing modernity, while Marxism and Nietzschean philosophy both question psychoanalysis. Jacques Derrida discussed Jacques Lacan's reading of 'The Purloined Letter' in the essay 'Le Facteur de la Vérité'. By keeping the letter on a single itinerary, Derrida claims, Lacan is not just saying that the letter always arrives at its destination, he is acting as the 'postman' (facteur). Derrida argues against the potential of psychoanalysis to deliver 'truth': that 'the letter never arrives at its destination, but it belongs to the structure of the letter to be capable, always, of not arriving'. Lacan says that the woman's experience is outside the symbolic; Derrida thinks Lacanian psychoanalysis is committed to just that order, and by making the woman the other, makes the male experience normative.