This chapter engages with Jacques
Lacan’s influential ‘return to Freud’, and that
requires engaging with some Freud texts examined only partially so far:
The Interpretation of Dreams, Jokes and Their Relation to the
Unconscious, ‘Instincts and Their Vicissitudes’ and
Beyond the Pleasure Principle. I discuss four of
Lacan’s essays in the Écrits, and
This chapter begins with three of
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 Lacan on paranoia and
psychosis. The ‘Dora’ case turned out negatively. For the
other two, Lacan has been one of the most significant commentators
There is danger in a prolonged gaze, for it projects you into what you see. Julio Cortázar‘s story ‘Axolotl’ describes the narrators fascination with a species of salamander notable particularly for their eyes, that he discovers in the aquarium of the Jardin des Plantes. Near the story‘s end the narrator loses himself in those eyes and suddenly sees his own face pressed against the aquarium glass: he has become an axolotl. The exchange depicted here is akin to the trajectories of the gaze as depicted in Lacans Seminar XI. Together these two works suggest a gothic optics of uncanny power.
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 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.
Trauma realities defy easy access to comprehension and thus require alternative discourses to understand them. This article looks at Pat Barkers employment of the Gothic tropes in the examination and explication of war trauma in her Regeneration trilogy. More pertinently, it scrutinizes the complex relation between Gothicized landscapes and trauma by analyzing three specific sites – Craiglockhart War Hospital, trenches and England as ‘Blighty’ – in the Regeneration trilogy. This article shows traumas destabilizing impact by examining how landscapes become imprinted with trauma. The physical disempowerment of landscapes is further complemented by a psychological disempowerment by examining traumatized patient-soldiers mindscapes and dreamscapes. It further examines how Barker employs tropes of haunting, dreams and nightmares, staple Gothic emotions of fear, terror and horror, Freuds Unheimlich to dispossess the owners control and locates trauma realities lurking therein. Thus Barkers Regeneration narrative bears witness to the phantom realities of war trauma by privileging the uncanny personal histories of traumatized soldiers.
Ranging from Horace Walpole to Angela Carter, this essay contributes to an emergent theory of the Gothic. Its argument is that ‘Gothic’ is the name for the speaking subjects experience of approaching what Jacques Lacan has termed ‘the Thing’, and that the processes of sublimation and abjection are what structure the experience of that approach.
Puzzling out the fathers: Sibylle Lacan’s
Un père: puzzle
Sibylle Lacan’s text Un père, published in , bears the subtitle ‘puzzle’,
a term which the author describes as referring primarily to the fragmented
nature of her writing.1 However, it applies equally well to the subject of her
text: the question of what kind of father Jacques Lacan represented for her
is a puzzle wrestled with throughout the text. Behind this puzzle lies
another. Is her text also primarily a testimony to her father’s intellectual
legacy? In taking up her pen, is
. Chapter 2 analysed a
Sherlock Holmes story, so it seems fit to end with Lacan’s study
of another, earlier detective story, by Edgar Allan Poe (1806–49)
whose hero, Dupin, inspired Doyle. Lacan knew ‘The Purloined
Letter’ (1845) through its French translation as ‘La Lettre
volée’, by Baudelaire, and the essay formed part of Seminar
II, The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of
every case is alert to the effect of gender in relation to
them. Rather than ponder the nature of the subject, for example, as though
it were a universal subject (and therefore implicitly male), Irigaray
discusses sexually different subjects; rather than consider desire in itself,
Irigaray works with sexually different desire.
This emphasis on desire and sexual difference obviously intersects
with the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Lacan, theories which had
enormous impact on French philosophers of the time. Irigaray, in common
with most other psychoanalytic