Freud's Literary Culture

Freud's Literary Culture

Freud's Literary Culture

Freud's Literary Culture

Synopsis

This original book investigates the role played by literature in Sigmund Freud's creation and development of psychoanalysis. Graham Frankland analyzes the whole range of Freud's own texts from a literary-critical perspective, providing a comprehensive reappraisal of his life's work. His study reveals how Freud was deeply rooted in European literary tradition, examining in detail the rhetoric and imagery of his writing, the influence of literary criticism on his approach to analyzing patients and his creation of psychoanalytical "novels," quasi-literary fictions fraught with profoundly personal subtexts.

Excerpt

Throughout this book, the intention of which is to examine the role played by literature in Freud's creation, presentation, and development of psychoanalysis, my approach to his works will essentially be that of a literary critic. For this reason I shall not be aiming to make definitive pronouncements on the truth value of psychoanalysis, nor shall I address— at least, not explicitly—the various contemporary debates about the scientific and philosophical credentials of psychoanalysis, such as the feminist critique of Freud's patriarchal and phallocentric assumptions, for example, or the contentious issues involving memories of abuse recovered during therapy. Such omissions do not, of course, imply an imperious rejection on my part of the validity of these debates. In one respect, they correspond merely to a narrowing of focus that is essential when dealing with such a wide—and heavily trod—field as psychoanalysis. More importantly, they are a necessary corollary of my treatment of Freud's work not as a body of knowledge, but as a body of writing. I shall concentrate on analysing Freud's texts as texts—their rhetoric and imagery, their inner tensions and subtexts, their sources, their cultural background, and so on. Indeed, it is by focusing so intensively on the precise texture of Freud's works and, in particular, on his literary preoccupations and assumptions, that I hope to shed light on his creation of a new 'science' from some unexpected angles.

It should already be clear from this qualification that my own recourse to Freudian ideas—a recurrent theme of this book—does not constitute any endorsement of the absolute validity of those ideas. My work should leave the reader with not so much a new set of conclusions about psychoanalysis as a fresh sensitivity towards Freud's writing, an alertness to its rich contexts and fraught subtexts which, in the best literary-critical tradition, should ambiguate rather than definitively categorize his work. And yet the perspectives opened up by this 'literary-critical' approach are by no means without relevance to the current controversies and xi . . .

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