Antonin Artaud and Freud's "Family Romance": The Transgressive Sublime

By Engelbert, Lynn Hughey | Mosaic (Winnipeg), June 2014 | Go to article overview

Antonin Artaud and Freud's "Family Romance": The Transgressive Sublime


Engelbert, Lynn Hughey, Mosaic (Winnipeg)


Freud's family romance and Romantic idealism conjoined in Antonin Artaud's work such that repetition and transference became accompanied by a Romantic quest for a strange and more sublime aesthetic order. This was both a psychological system and a philosophical perspective that negatively and energetically influenced his radical and existential forms of self-identification.

The Freudian disorder that underlies the theory of "Family Romances" is sometimes recuperated by a Romantic system of aesthetics in the work of individuals such as Antonin Artaud, where the trauma of existence becomes the fodder for avant-garde brilliance, and not merely a "correction of actual life," as Freud suggested (IX: 238). Artaud's radical reconstruction of theatre and literature represents an alternative form of sublimity, one where creation and destruction moved hand-in-hand to symbolize the comingling of the Romantic quest with the shattered perspectives of phantasy. In Freud's stereotypical romance, the child/adult's "parents are replaced by others of better birth" and this allows them freedom from their "authority" (237-38). When this transition becomes neurotic, the "estrangement" of the parents produces the "neurotic's family romance," which is often the case with "highly gifted people," argues Freud (V: 76). This neurotic construction should be understood as an alternative kind of subjectivity as well as a "conceptual system" and, as Adrian Morfee argues, composed of "mythic overtones" that deconstruct conventional aesthetics (22). This system can be read in conjunction with Freud's description of the "hostile" works of fiction of other neurotics that are not "badly intended" but disguise the child's affection for the parents in a negative way (V: 77). For Artaud, in correlation with Freudian theory, an "extraordinary and extravagant vision of the human condition" is created, both psychologically and symbolically (Oedipal conflict), producing a compromised subjectivity (Morfee 22). Freud found that this was a necessary part of a psychological transition into individuated subjectivity and ego formation but it is also "one of the most painful results" of this occurrence (V: 74). This illustrates the effect of the sublime in its intimate relations with this subject, I would argue, and as a result, the compromise between psychoanalysis and Romanticism for individuals like Artaud is one of orderly composition usurped by transference, phantasy, and transgression. In the correspondence between this order and chaos, Artaud's later work exhibits a more sublime aesthetic, as I will propose in this essay.

It is a system or an oppositional structure that compels this analysis, and the evaluation of Freudian psychoanalysis, Romanticism, and the affectation of negative and positive characteristics from both in Artaud's work are my primary concern. Therefore, an examination of "his analyses of language and of the voids of the thinking subject" (Morfee 22), and the existential nature of the aesthetic system that Artaud's work singularly endorses, will follow from a consideration of "Artaudian metaphysics," overall (75). First, I will examine the (ur)relationship between characteristics and symptoms of Romanticism and psychoanalysis as radically conjoined constructs for aesthetics and art. Second, I will investigate the consequences of Freud's family romance in regards to the adoption of Romantic strategies. Third, I will offer a series of biographical examples with autobiographical content in order to propose there is a structure of "lamentation" in Artaud's utilization of these strategies, in alliance with the Freudian "theatre of inner representation." And, finally, I will analyze The Body Without Organs ("Corps sans organes") as a central motif in Artaud's work as a sublime existentialism, or what Morfee describes as "an elastic architecture" in Artaud's work (174). In this part of the analysis I will focus on the mature works of Artaud, so most of the references will be to Clayton Eshleman and Bernard Bador's very concise translation of these into English. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Antonin Artaud and Freud's "Family Romance": The Transgressive Sublime
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.