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Boesky, D. (1975). Correspondence with Miss Joyce Carol Oates. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 2:481-486.

(1975). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 2:481-486

Correspondence with Miss Joyce Carol Oates

Dale Boesky

The fascination and profound respect with which Freud approached his psychoanalytic studies of literature was echoed in the enthusiastic response of many serious writers to issues of mutual interest to psychoanalysts and the creative artist. The subsequent history of applied psychoanalysis has unfortunately been sometimes turbulent because of important misunderstandings of psychoanalytic issues on the part of writers and literary critics but also because of some facile and clumsy perceptions of serious literary work on the part of psychoanalysts.

After a recent opportunity to hear the noted American writer, Joyce Carol Oates, discussing some of these issues, I wrote to her about certain questions which relate to the methodology of applied psychoanalysis and literature and found her responses to be so stimulating that I concluded they should be brought to the attention of the psychoanalytic community. In the interests of increasing the coherence of certain passages in these two remarkable letters I have included the relevant excerpts from my own rather lengthy letters which will clarify the context of her responses.

21 September 1973

Dear Miss Oates,

I think a good point at which to begin your reactions and comments about issues relating to literature and psychoanalysis would be to reexamine an assumption which was initially novel but has become widely accepted. I refer to the notion that it is valid for a psychoanalyst to approach an understanding of a literary character just as though the character were 'real'.

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