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Esman, A.H. (2001). The Possession at Loudun: Michel de Certeau. Translated by Michael B. Smith, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2000. Pp. xi + 251.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(6):1286-1288.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(6):1286-1288

The Possession at Loudun: Michel de Certeau. Translated by Michael B. Smith, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2000. Pp. xi + 251.

Review by:
Aaron H. Esman, M.D.

The episode, in 1632, of ‘demonic possession’ in a group of nuns and postulants of the Ursuline convent in the small city of Loudun in western France has remained an object of interest for almost 400 years. It has inspired a wealth of literature over the centuries; best known to Anglophone readers is Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun (1952). Little attention has been paid to it in the psychoanalytic literature (at least in English), despite the seductive bouillabaisse of sexuality, psychopathology and religion.

The present book, The Possession at Loudun, is a new translation of a work, first published in France in 1970 and reissued in 1990, by a brilliant if somewhat quirky Jesuit scholar who tells a fascinating tale in the characteristic French intellectual style—allusive, at times cryptic, richly philosophical, and not easily grasped at first reading.

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