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Thurston, L. (1994). Malcolm Bowie, Lacan Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991, 244 pages, £15.95 (cloth). Published by Fontana in paperback, £4.99. Free Associations, 4(4):605-609.

(1994). Free Associations, 4(4):605-609

Malcolm Bowie, Lacan Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991, 244 pages, £15.95 (cloth). Published by Fontana in paperback, £4.99

Review by:
Luke Thurston

The exegesis of Lacan has become an industry. If Freud's publications failed to arouse much interest at first, when they eventually did so they gave rise to denunciation or enthusiasm — to conviction of all kinds. It is as if Lacan's work, by contrast, remains perpetually stalled at an earlier stage, a time of indecision and anxiety in which no interpretative closure is possible. Meanwhile, an eager horde of exegetes rush forward, each claiming to provide an introduction to the Lacanian ‘system’, to penetrate the dense stylistic fog which veils it, and thus reveal the essential message. What is frequently remarkable about these ‘introductions’ is that they appear to be untroubled by the ambiguity of the genitive in the phrase ‘the exegesis of Lacan’. For to interpret Lacan is not simply to interpret Lacan. From its outset, Lacan's project was propped on the texts of Freud — rereading, displacing, transforming. At the same time, it constituted a polemical intervention in the debate surrounding training and transmission in psychoanalysis. What did it mean, asked Lacan, to be a Freudian? How could the ‘truth’ of Freud's legacy be salvaged, protected, passed on? Such questions, initially posed as challenges to the psychoanalytic community, should take on a special urgency for anyone seeking to make sense of Lacan with a view to transmitting or translating his teaching.

Reading Lacan, one encounters first and foremost a set of immensely influential and no less controversial readings of Freud.

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