Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To quickly return to the issue’s Table of Contents from an article…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

You can go back to to the issue’s Table of Contents in one click by clicking on the article title in the article view. What’s more, it will take you to the specific place in the TOC where the article appears.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Whitehead, C.C. (2005). Don Juan's Wager, by Francois Rachline, Other Press, New York, 2001, 254 pp. $18.00 (paper).. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 33(3):571-573.

(2005). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 33(3):571-573

Don Juan's Wager, by Francois Rachline, Other Press, New York, 2001, 254 pp. $18.00 (paper).

Review by:
Clay C. Whitehead, M.D.

Psychoanalysts have long been interested in Don Juan. Freud focused on his sexuality, Ferenczi on his psychosis, and Rank on his liberating effect on women. Now Francois Rachline brings us a postmodern view of Don Juan rendered in a seamless translation by Susan Fairfield. His perspective is that of economic epistemology which we may take as describing the derivation of meaning from the historical and philosophical context of economics. This early emphasis on hermeneutics hints at broader themes of psychoanalytic interest in Don Juan's Wager. These seductive allusions helped this reviewer to overcome the post-traumatic syndrome caused by previous encounters with the glories of Gallic hyperintellectualsm found in Sartre, Ricoeur, and Lacan. Rachline's seduction commences.

Like the Don, himself, Rachline rapidly abandons the superficial foreplay of intellectual seduction, and seeks to probe the inner core of its subject. Despite some interesting tangents, much of the book is devoted to a kind of character study of the protagonist. In the chapter “Personne” the author puns in French on his view of Don Juan: “a person and nobody; everything and nothing.” The Don is sanguine, jaded, inconstant, charming, detached, impatient, hedonistic, and passionless. Others have portrayed him as a playful lord, a damned soul, a libertine, a hero, a Renaissance man, a homosexual, a dandy, or a pervert to name only a few examples. One is struck by the enormous projections in these characterizations when one considers the biographies of their authors. Indeed, Rachline goes on to offer his view of the Don as a “conceptual figure”. He arrives at this view by a “subtractive approach” which avoids imagery, representation, and arguably, meaning. It is an essential postmodern deconstruction. We arrive at a Don who is detached, non-reciprocal, and disenchanted.


[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.