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Rickman, J. (1929). On Quotations. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:242-248.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:242-248

On Quotations

John Rickman

§ 1.—Introduction.

§ 2.—Three motives for making a quotation. Quotation and hypnosis. The difference between quotations and examples. The first quotation. Virtuosity in quotation. Exhibiting a new idea as a quotation. Compulsive quotations. Quotations in dementia præcox. Compilations. Improving quotations. Parody. Priggishness. Plagiarism, open and concealed. The aversion from quoting. The acceptance of quotation. Mimicry.

§ 3.—Conclusion.

§ 1. Some years ago I entertained the hope of being able to make the analysis of quotations from poets and novelists, but particularly from poets, into a new instrument for literary criticism. Lines are quoted to us that have impressed themselves on the minds of our analysands and are brought forward in a setting of associations which is usually free from the peculiar self-conscious atmosphere which æsthetic criticism frequently both generates and wilts in. My hope was that a significant connection would be found between the quotations from the great poets and important features in the patients' infantile experiences, but though I had a 'run of luck' in this respect which nearly evoked a paper for the British Psycho-Analytical Society, my evidence over a longer period gave me no ground for thinking that we have in the correlation of quotations and recollections of early experiences an index of the poet's merit as it is usually judged. Owing to over-determination in the selection of passages it has not been possible to separate the æsthetic merits, the personal associations to the content, the respect for the poet and the mood or tone of the poem of which a part is quoted from one another with sufficient distinctness to form the basis for a definite statement. While disappointed that my curiosity about the content of the quotation and its relation to the patient's mind did not lead in the direction expected, I found more scope for inquiry when attention was turned to the occasions when a quotation is used.

§ 2. When we suspend the train of our own thoughts in order to introduce those of another person we may well ask ourselves what motive we have for abandoning for the time being the pleasure in exploiting our own ideas.

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