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Hyman, L.W. (1983). Representing Shakespeare—new Psychoanalytic Essays. Murray M. Schwartz and Coppelia Kahn (Eds.) Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980. XXI + 296 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 70:132-135.

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(1983). Psychoanalytic Review, 70(1):132-135

Representing Shakespeare—new Psychoanalytic Essays. Murray M. Schwartz and Coppelia Kahn (Eds.) Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980. XXI + 296 pp.

Review by:
Lawrence W. Hyman

What is “new” about the 13 essays that make up this anthology? Aside from the fact that the psychoanalytic theories employed here are derived from the theories of Margaret Mahler, G. S. Klein, Erik Erikson, D. W. Winnicott, and others who emphasize the relationship between infant and parent rather than the traditional Freudian concepts of repression and oedipal fixations, the editors also claim that these newer theories are particularly appropriate to literary interpretation. Instead of seeing human nature as reducible to innate drives, these concepts of separation, individuation, and maturation emphasize the active contribution of the individual to his development: “… the child responds to the parent's response to it, the latter response is informed by the relation to the child as shaped by the present environment, and by the parent's past response to parents who respond to him or her. …” In the same way, critical interpretation is also circular because “the critical dialogue represents the other—Shakespeare in his world—in terms of the individual and collective present concerns of the authors of these essays.”

There is an obvious truth to the claim that what we find in a play or in a novel depends in part on what we are prepared to find. But it is equally obvious that the only way to justify our interpretations is by appealing to evidence that, whatever its ultimate source, can be accepted by other people as existing

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