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Bollas, C. (1982). The Tragic Effect: By Andre Green. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Pp. 264. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 9:109-111.

(1982). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 9:109-111

The Tragic Effect: By Andre Green. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979. Pp. 264

Review by:
Christopher Bollas

'The psycho-analytic reading of tragedy', writes Andre Green, 'will have as its aim the mapping of the traces of the oedipal structure concealed in its formal organization; through an analysis of the symbolic activity, which is masked from the spectator's perception and acts on him unknown to himself'. As there is no tragedy without a tragic hero, the playgoer identifies with the hero's competition with the gods; in this moment, the spectator is the oedipal son, and the tragic effect is none other than the oedipal effect. 'In the last resort', concludes Green, 'every text springs from a murder (of the father), carried out with the intention of obtaining pleasure, sexual possession (of the mother). This is the radical, some would say imperialist, conclusion to which I am led.'

The theatre is the 'best embodiment of that "other scene" the unconscious', and its representational sensibility lies somewhere between the dream's immersion of the subject in an event and the different means of representation in fantasy where the author's presence is silent and removed from the scene of action. The child and the playgoer share the same point of view, they are spectators of exchanges between characters who represent themselves in 'unglossed statements'.

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