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Green, A. (1994). The Functions of Writing: Transmission Between Generations and Role Assignment Within the Family, in Henry James and his Family. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:585-608.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:585-608

The Functions of Writing: Transmission Between Generations and Role Assignment Within the Family, in Henry James and his Family

André Green


The Jameses provide abundant material for this study of the function of writing within a family, combining a relationship between generations and between the sexes among siblings. The starting point is Henry's dream of the Galerie d'Apollon, which can be referred to its sources in reality; its autobiographical account; and its transformation into a story. This material gives clues to some central features of his unconscious conflicts with both his father and elder brother. The father's writings deal with his concern with religion, which expresses his relationship with his own father. William transforms his father's theology into philosophy and becomes one of the pioneers of modern psychology. Alice's diary recounts her identification with her father's infirmity through her hysterical paralysis. Henry's work reveals that he is the one who really succeeded in solving his conflicts with the father. His literature is transgressive according to his father's and brother's values, though he shares their ideal of a consciousness common to the Jameses. Through fiction, Henry has indirect access to the drives; but only in his work did he acknowledge these, overcoming his oedipal conflicts. Thus Henry is the closest of the Jameses to psychoanalysis; his work enables us to make some hypotheses regarding the creative process.

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