Literature and Psychoanalysis

By Edith Kurzweil; William Phillips | Go to book overview

Moreover Leonard Woolf has, like Virginia, domesticated the unconscious. In a passage in Principia Politica, he erroneously attributes to Jung ideas expressed by Freud as early as The Interpretation of Dreams and then proceeds to emend these ideas. It is not true, he says, that "there is no verbal, conceptual or logical reasoning in the dreams or unconscious of modern man." Utterly ignoring Freud's distinction between the contents of the unconscious itself and the final manifest dream, Woolf argues that the unconscious is at least partly rational because in dreams "we speak and are spoken to; we have general and abstract ideas; we act because we have understood the abstract or general ideas in something that has been said; we think in words and therefore 'reason.'" 98 This is an extraordinary distortion of the bedrock of Freudian theory for a man who claims to be a Freudian. Though Leonard Woolf could refer to psychoanalytic theory as "the second eating of the apple on the tree of knowledge," it is apparent that he could partake of the fruit without being fully expelled from the Eden of sweet Moorist rationalism.


Notes
1.
See Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey: A Critical Biography, vols. 1 and 2 ( New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1967, 1968), 1:208.
2.
See Quentin Bell, Bloomsbury ( London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1968), p. 43.
3.
John Maynard Keynes, "My Early Beliefs" from Two Memoirs ( London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1949), p. 82.
4.
Leonard Woolf, Beginning Again: An Autobiography of the Years 1911 to 1918 ( New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964), p. 25.
5.
Philip Rieff, Freud: The Mind of a Moralist ( New York: Viking Press, 1959), p. 261.
6.
G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica ( Cambridge: The University Press, 1903), p. 189.
7.
Leonard Woolf, Sowing: An Autobiography of the Years 1880 to 1904 ( New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1960), p. 127.
8.
G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica, pp. 189-90.
9.
Keynes, Two Memoirs, p. 100.
12.
Holroyd, Lytton Strachey, 2:442.
13.
James Strachey and Leonard Woolf, eds., Letters: Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey ( New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1956), p. 132.

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