Melanie Klein

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To the renowned psychoanalyst, philosopher, and linguist Julia Kristeva, Melanie Klein (1882-1960) was the most original innovator, male or female, in the psychoanalytic arena. Klein pioneered psychoanalytic practice with children and made major contributions to our understanding of both psychosis and autism. Along the way, she successfully introduced a new approach to the theory of the unconscious without abandoning the principles set forth by Freud. In her first biography of a fellow psychoanalyst, the prolific Kristeva considers Klein's life and intellectual development, weaving a narrative that covers the history of psychoanalysis and illuminates Kristeva's own life and work. Kristeva tells the remarkable story of Klein's life: an unhappy wife and mother who underwent analysis, and-without a medical or other advanced degree-became an analyst herself at the age of 40. In examining her work, Kristeva proposes that Klein's "break" with Freud was really an attempt to complete his theory of the unconscious. Kristeva addresses Klein's numerous critics, and, in doing so, bridges the wide gulf between the clinical and theoretical worlds of psychoanalysis. Klein is celebrated here as the first person to see the mother as the source of not only creativity, but of thought itself, and the first to consider the place of matricide in psychic development. As such, Klein is a seminal figure in the evolution of the provocative ideas about motherhood and the psyche for which Kristeva is most famous. Klein is thus, in a sense, a mother to Kristeva, making this book an account of the development of Kristeva's own thought as well as Klein' more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 160.5 x 235.2 x 24.6mm | 603.29g
  • Columbia University Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • portraits
  • 0231122845
  • 9780231122849
  • 1,378,108

Review quote

Kristeva, a formidable cultural historian and critic, brings a rich mix of data and ideas. Library Journal Not only is Kristeva superbly successful in this elaboration, but also I believe she is sometimes superior to Klein herself in the conceptual articulation of clinical insights. -- Aleksandar Dimitrijevic Metapsychologyshow more

About Julia Kristeva

Julia Kristeva is an internationally known psychoanalyst and critic and is professor of linguistics at the University of Paris VII. She is the author of many highly regarded books published by Columbia in translation, including Hannah Arendt, Strangers to Ourselves, New Maladies of the Soul, Time and Sense, and The Sense and Non-Sense of more

Table of contents

Introduction: The Psychoanalytic Century1: Jewish Families, European Stories: A Depression and Its Aftermath2: Analyzing Her Children: From Scandal to Play Technique3: The Priority and Interiority of the Other and the Bond: The Baby Is Born with His Objects4: Anxiety or Desire: In the Beginning Was the Death Drive5: A Most Early and Tyrannical Superego6: The Cult of the Mother or an Ode to Matricide? The Parents7: The Phantasy as a Metaphor Incarnate8: The Immanence of Symbolism and Its Degrees9: From the Foreign Language to the Filigree of the Loyal and Disloyal10: The Politics of Kleinianismshow more

Review Text

The second installment, of more narrow interest than her "Hannah Arendt "(p. 787), in postmodern pioneer Kristeva's planned three-volume triptych on female geniuses. After her provocative study of the endlessly conflicted German-Jewish philosopher, Kristeva (Linguistics/Univ. of Paris) turns to a psychoanalyst whose work, unlike Arendt's, will be little known to nonspecialist readers. Austrian-born Melanie Klein (1882-1960) was an early acolyte of Sigmund Freud's whose elaborate modifications of his theories provoked considerable irritation on the part of the master himself and many of his intellectual progeny. Whereas Freud's elaboration of such matters as the Oedipus complex "oriented the psychic life of the subject around the castration ordeal and the function of the father," Kristeva writes, Klein insisted on the primacy of the female, thus running the risk "of reducing the oedipal triangle into a dyad." Non-Freudians will be somewhat bemused by Kristeva's approving summaries of Klein's ideas on anal fixation, "oral-sadistic and cannibalistic desires," the equation of the penis with "bad and toxic excrement," and other matters; of more interest to generalists is her account of the controversies such ideas aroused in orthodox circles, which involved, among other things, a long and heated war of attrition between Klein and Freud's daughter Anna. Kristeva's ideas, which in other works are surrounded by impenetrable thickets of specialized language, here are clearly expressed (credit for at least part of that must surely go to the translator), and she capably demonstrates why Klein, despite the "ambiguous, ambivalent" nature of her theories, should be regarded as an innovator and pioneer in psychoanalytic theory. Of much substance, though of interest to a very small readership. (Kirkus Reviews)show more