States of Fantasy

States of Fantasy

States of Fantasy

States of Fantasy


In September 1993, Israel and the PLO signed their first peace treaty; in April 1994, South Africa held its first nonracial elections. Jacqueline Rose argues here for the importance of these two arenas of historic conflict to the English literary and cultural imagination and to the new disciplinary boundaries of the humanities today. As in her previous books, her fundamental question is the place of fantasy in public and private identities. But in States of Fantasy she pushes her investigation into what at first glance seem unlikely places. In fact, as she convincingly demonstrates, nowhere demonstrates more clearly than the above regions the need for a psychoanalytically informed understanding of historical process. And nothing makes more visible the unbreakable line that runs between literature and politics than the place of England and its writing in those histories. Her provocative study offers the strongest rebuttal to critics who try to sever the links between the study of literature and culture and the making and unmaking of the modern world.


Fantasies moved within her like ghosts [. . .] dark rays doing their work invisibly in broad light.

George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, 1876

[Pathological phenomena] are, one might say, a State within a State, an inaccessible party, with which co-operation is impossible, but which may succeed in overcoming what is known as the normal party and forcing it into its service.

Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, 1934-8

During those terrible nights of the June war, Arab men flocked there to fish . . . they were searching in the sea for the reassurance that there was something stronger than our state.

Emil Habiby, The Secret Lift of Saeed, the III-Fated Pessoptimist:--A Palestinian Who Became a Citizen of Israel, 1974

. . . feelings heard,
But every time articulate
Scarcely a word.
But you have too long deferred
Your visit to the modern state.

Muriel Spark, The Mandelbaum Gate, 1963

This book begins in 1980, during a visit to Israel. I was visiting a sister who was living at the time with a Bedouin community in occupied Sinai--land which, on the terms of the 1979 Camp David treaty, was to be returned to Egypt the following year. I had never been to . . .

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