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Towards Reading Freud

Self-Creation in Milton, Wordsworth, Emerson, and Sigmund Freud

When most critics were using Freudian theories to study literature, Mark Edmundson read Freud’s writings as literature alongside the works of poets grappling with the heady issues of desire, narcissism, and grief. Towards Reading Freud weighs the psychoanalyst’s therapeutic directives against his more visionary impulses in a magisterial comparative study of such writers as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Emerson, and Keats. Cross-fertilizing psychological doctrine with the literary canon, this richly informed volume forges a new understanding of Freud’s writings on the self.
 
“Marvelous. . . . Edmundson’s book offers an extraordinary challenge both to practicing analysts and to a scholarly community which all too uncomplainingly inhabits and reinforces the Freudian paradigm of interpretation. Edmundson reinvents an adventurous and dissident Freud as an antidote to . . . weary psychoanalytic commonplaces.”—Malcolm Bowie, Raritan
 
“This book takes a distinguished place in the ongoing effort to recontextualize Freud by stressing the literary, rather than the scientific roots and character of his theory.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

184 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2007

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Psychiatry

Reviews

“Marvelous. . . . Edmundson’s book offers an extraordinary challenge both to practicing analysts and to a scholarly community which all too uncomplainingly inhabits and reinforces the Freudian paradigm of interpretation. Edmundson reinvents an adventurous and dissident Freud as an antidote to . . . weary psychoanalytic commonplaces.”

Malcolm Bowie | Raritan

"To deflate exaggerated praise on dustcovers is a critic’s pleasure. This time, however, I join the praise."

John Neubauer | Comparative Literary Studies

"Practising analysts would do well to heed this book’s warning against becoming the Super-egoic subject who is not only supposed to know but comes to believe that he does know; literary critics can find here a brilliant model of how to read literary texts side by side with psychoanalytic theory. . . Edmundson’s book shows how literature can, and psychoanalysis should, help rein in one another’s desire to know."

David Hillman | MLR

Table of Contents

Preface 
Introduction
Reading Freud
 
Chapter One
Freud’s First Self-Genesis: "The Interpretation of Dreams," 1900
 
Chapter Two
New Thresholds: "On Narcissism, An Introduction," 1914 
 
Chapter Three
Therapeutic Exchanges: Papers on Psychoanalytic Technique, 1911-1915
 
Chapter Four
The Work of Melancholia: "Mourning and Melancholia," 1917
 
Conclusion
Freud in the Future

Index

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