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Harrell, V. (2006). James Joyce and the Problem of Psychoanalysis, by Luke Thurston, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2004, pp. 232, $75.00.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 34(3):566-570.

(2006). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 34(3):566-570

James Joyce and the Problem of Psychoanalysis, by Luke Thurston, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2004, pp. 232, $75.00.

Review by:
Valentina Harrell, Ph.D.

Thurston's book might more accurately have been titled James Joyce and Lacanian Psychoanalysis, reflecting how Thurston frames and extrapolates Lacan's assessment of “the problem of psychoanalysis.” From within this narrower purview, Thurston's treatise is sophisticated and thought provoking, mutually and simultaneously extending while playfully challenging meaning as framed by three scholarly traditions—the literary productions of James Joyce, literary criticism, and Lacanian psychoanalysis. He unearths and deciphers yet more Joycean riddles, often using the non-discursive language of Finnegans Wake to awaken transformed apprehension of what he and Lacan identify as Joyce's “unreadability.” Lacan's intrigue with Joyce reflected a shared delight in language play, in all jocoseriousness. Thurston extends this tradition using Joycean text to make merry regarding the overlapping domains of scholarship, weaving a rich, textured and nuanced tapestry. His style, however, tends toward obscurity, making it, although readable, an arduous journey, perhaps most appealing to the veteran traveler in Lacanian circles familiar with the vocabulary of “ecrit, trope, jouissance, anamorphosis” and the mysteries of the “real”. Nevertheless, golden nuggets can be gleaned that, I believe, illuminate contemporary developments in our efforts to assess the heartbeat of psychoanalytic process. This book pulses with irreverence and relevance.

In the introduction, “Prologue: Groundhog Day,” Thurston, identifying the potential deadliness of entrapping circularity, articulates two aims corresponding to the two subsections of the book—Part I: On Traduction and Part II: Unspeakable Joyce.

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