A century after the arrival of Freud's Oedipus, it might seem that modern lives are very different from what they were then. Typical family formations and norms of sexual attachment have changed and are changing, while the conditions of sexual difference, both biologically and socially, have undergone far-reaching modifications. Today, it is possible to choose and live subjective stories that the first psychoanalytic patients could only dream of. Different troubles and enjoyments are speakable and unspeakable; different selves are rejected, discovered, or sought. Many kinds of hitherto unrepresented or unrepresentable identity have entered into the ordinary surrounding stories through which children and adults find their bearings in the world. Biographical narratives that would previously have seemed unthinkable or incredible—'a likely story!'—have acquired the straightforward plausibility of a likely story.
At the same time, normal patterns of behaviour that previously appeared as timelessly natural may now have the dated feel of the historical curiosity; they in their turn have come to verge on the incredible or the obsolete. This leads to a question about how or whether the fundamental determinations of identity have changed—or what, if any, they might be. How fixed are the myths or ideologies through which, consciously or unconsciously, people understand their place in their world? How do people change, or fail to change—both individually, and in the slow time of history through which characters and their typical stories come and go? Conversely, how do the stories change through which we grasp such characters, ourselves included—as individuals, as pairs, or as collectivities?
This book turns back to Freud to look at the ways in which he was himself engaged with such issues. In the light of present-day questions about new forms and conditions of life history, different emphases may show up or seem to be adumbrated in his writing, while others may
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Publication information: Book title: Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedy and Modern Identities. Contributors: Rachel Bowlby - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2007. Page number: 1.
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