Figures of the Pre-Freudian Unconscious from Flaubert to Proust

Figures of the Pre-Freudian Unconscious from Flaubert to Proust

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An original, wide-ranging contribution to the study of French writing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this book examines the ways in which the unconscious was understood in literature in the years before Freud. Exploring the influence of medical and psychological discourse over the existence and/or potential nature of the unconscious, Michael R. Finn discusses the resistance of feminists opposing medical diagnoses of the female brain as the seat of the unconscious, the hypnotism craze of the 1880s and the fascination, in fiction, with dual personality and posthypnotic crimes. The heart of the study explores how the unconscious inserts itself into the writing practice of Flaubert, Maupassant and Proust. Through the presentation of scientific evidence and quarrels about the psyche, Michael R. Finn is able to show the work of such writers in a completely new light.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 252 pages
  • 153 x 230 x 15mm | 400g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 1316635961
  • 9781316635964

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; Part I. Before Freud: The Quarrel of the Unconscious in Late Nineteenth-Century France; 1. Reflex action, unconscious cerebration, subliminal self; 2. The double brain and cerebral topography; 3. Hallucination and hypnotism; 4. The quarrel of the unconscious; 5. The French unconscious, Janet and Freud; Part II. Flaubert: Hysterical Duality, Hallucination and Writing: 6. The divided writer; 7. Flaubert bi-gendered; 8. Hector Landouzy, Salammbo and hysteria; 9. The critics and Flaubert's divided self; 10. Absorption, hallucination, writing stance; Part III. Maupassant, Charcot and the Paranormal: 11. Charcot, Le Horla and ambient psychic research; 12. 'Les magnetiseurs': Pickmann vs Donato; 13. Dualities and doubles; 14. Figuring the Maupassantian unconscious; Part IV. The Unconscious Female/The Female Unconscious: 15. Fictions of female physiology; 16. The late-century female brain and education; 17. Four female writers on the female brain; 18. Femme fatale, femme inconsciente; Part V. Hypnotism, Dual Personalities and the Popular Novel: 19. Experimental crimes, real crimes; 20. Dual personality, hypnotism and the French fin-de-siecle novel; 21. Sex, hypnotism and the unconscious; 22. A more sophisticated unconscious?; Part VI. Proust, the Intellect and the Unconscious: 23. Trials of the intellect; 24. The unconscious and creativity: 1900; 25. The 'natural' unconscious: Proust and Maeterlinck; 26. Toward the Proustian unconscious; 26.A Willpower and the creative; 26.B Unconscious anticipation; 26.C Deep, behind, within: articulating the unconscious; Postscript; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
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Review quote

'Clear and precise in its arguments, Finn's book draws illuminatingly on an impressive range of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sources, from medical treatises and theses, medical and cultural history to writers' correspondence, biography, literary fiction, reception studies and literary criticism. Finn has produced a book that enlivens our thinking and enriches our understanding of the place of pre-Freudian unconscious during a period when developments in medicine, psychology and psychiatry in France were informing and being reflected in creative writing of various sorts.' Adam Watt, University of Exeter '... an excellent and important project ... This detailed rereading of scientific discourse is in turn enriched by literary deployments of psychic phenomena. The research is thorough. The claims made are original and insightful.' Janell Watson, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 'Finn charts the quarrels that took place in the second half of the nineteenth century over the very existence of the unconscious, and, later, the debates over the creative potential of the unconscious, all in anticipation of Freudian contributions and discoveries, and of Proustian thought. ... The scope of the study is illuminating ...' Kate Rees, French Studies
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About Michael R. Finn

Michael R. Finn is Emeritus Professor of French in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Ryerson University in Toronto. He has written widely on the connection between literature and medicine including the books Proust, the Body and Literary Form (Cambridge, 1999) and Hysteria, Hypnotism, the Spirits and Pornography (2009), as well as an extensive range of articles.
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