Speaking Desires can be Dangerous

Speaking Desires can be Dangerous : The Poetics of the Unconscious

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This new book is a lively and original study of psychoanalysis and its relations to the arts.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 154 x 228 x 20mm | 439.99g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0
  • 0745619673
  • 9780745619675

Back cover copy

Although psychoanalytic criticism has long been established as a practice in its own right, dialogue between the clinical and aesthetic has so far been perfunctory. This innovative book sets out to show in detail that there is a poetics of the unconscious equally at work in both domains, the critical potential of which has been missed by both sides. In Part I, Wright focuses on the discoveries of Freudian psychoanalysis and demonstrates how the fundamental fantasies emerging in clinical practice are uncannily shared by works of art. This devotion of the unconscious to its phantasmic history is illustrated with examples from Freud, surrealist painting and Julia Kristeva's work on melancholia. In Part II, the focus shifts to Lacan's view of language as a means of agitating the unconscious of the reader. Part III takes examples from the rhetoric of clinical discourse, showing how practitioners are aware of a range of poetic meanings for both patient and analyst. The three parts demonstrate that all language is inescapably figural, as it betrays the operations of desire and fantasy in both aesthetic and clinical discourse. This book is suitable for second- and third-year undergraduate students and above in literature and literary theory, feminism and gender studies, and psychoanalysis.show more

Review quote

"The extraordinary achievement of Wrighta s book is that it inverts the standard psychoanalytic approach to art, which consists in bringing to light the unconscious pathological complexes that underlie the work of art -- for Wright, and in the best Lacanian tradition, it is the poetics, the rhetorical strategies of language itself, that provide the key to the formations of the unconscious. The consequent deployment of this insight makes the book an instant classic that will stay around for decades." Slavoj Zizek "Elizabeth Wright provides a "how--to" handbook on reading literary texts through psychoanalytic theory. She carefully and intelligently presents a compact description of a psychoanalytic reading, defines "discourse", as well as the "clinical case". These are the three core concepts for any understanding of a psychoanalytic approach to literature and language. They are well illustrated by insightful and comprehensible examples from Shakespeare to the German expressionist Alfred Kubin and the American writer Robert Coover and by examples from pyschoanalysts Julia Kristeva, Joyce McDougall and Wilfred Bion. An indispensable guide for student and critic alike." Sander Gilman "With an acute eye Speaking Desires seamlessly weaves together psychoanalytic theory and literary criticism as only one equally at ease in both discourses can do." Psychoanalytic Studiesshow more

About Elizabeth Wright

Elizabeth Wright was formerly at Girton College, Cambridge.show more

Table of contents

Introduction. Part I: Psychoanalysis and Literature: Freud. 1. What is a psychoanalytic reading?. 2. The uncanny and its poetics. 3. The vagaries of fantasy: Kubina s The Other Side. . 4. Maladies of the soul: the poetics of Julia Kristeva. Part II: Psychoanalysis and Language: Lacan. 5. What is discourse?. 6. The indirections of desire: Hamlet. . 7. Inscribing the body politic: Robert Coovera s Spanking the Maid. . 8. What does Woman want?: The Double Life of Veronique. Part III Patients and Analysts: Readers and texts. 9. What is a clinical a casea ?. 10. The rhetoric of clinical discourse: Dialogue with Sammy. . 11. The rhetoric of clinical management: Bion and Minuchin. 12. Out of tune: Elfriede Jelineka s The Piano Teacher. Conclusion. Notes. Bibliography. Index.show more

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