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Parsons, M. (1993). Writer's Block: By Zachary Leader. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1991. Pp. 324.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:211-213.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:211-213

Writer's Block: By Zachary Leader. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1991. Pp. 324.

Review by:
Michael Parsons

The uneasy relationship between psychoanalysts and students of literature has improved over the years. From 'We must … object to the conclusions of Freud and Dr. Jones on the ground that their proponents do not have an adequate conception of what an artistic meaning is' (Trilling, 1950), we have moved to 'There is now no alternative to reading literature in some relation to psychoanalysis' (Easthope, 1989). Zachary Leader uses psychoanalysis to understand the literature that we cannot read because it does not get written.

Leader is an academic in the field of English literature, with an impressive knowledge of psychoanalysis. As a postgraduate student he found himself comparing Blake with Coleridge and Wordsworth: the one fluently productive, the others plagued with inhibitions to their creativity. This set him wondering about the whole question of blocked creativity in writers, and the result is this book. It reads as a fine conjunction of psychoanalysis and literary scholarship, and reviewing it as a psychoanalyst I wish I had the knowledge to engage more thoroughly with the academic side of it. Leader keeps his own thought processes, his fascination with the topic and his engagement with the task of writing about it, in full view. The experience of reading the book thus has several layers.

Academically and psychoanalytically it is full of interest. But one also sees the author working to assemble it, not without difficulty; and for anyone who himself has tried to write, the book is bound to set up a dialogue with his own experience.

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