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Russo, L. (1990). Giorgio Sacerdoti. L'ironia attraverso la psicoanalisi. Cortina, Milano, 1987, 206 pages, Liras 24.000.. Rivista Psicoanal., 36(2):470-478.

(1990). Rivista di Psicoanalisi, 36(2):470-478

Giorgio Sacerdoti. L'ironia attraverso la psicoanalisi. Cortina, Milano, 1987, 206 pages, Liras 24.000. Language Translation

Review by:
Lucio Russo

In Ancient Greek comedy, irony appears in the person of the dissimulator who says less than he knows, hides what he does know and gives lease to whoever claims to know more than is actually the case.

The comic web is played out in the space between the less and the more; the interplay of deficiency and excess yields meaning and fuels speech. Sacerdoti's book was conceived, as the author himself declares, out of the need to deepen appreciation of the role, the process and the mechanics of irony.

Highly versed in both psychoanalytic theory and in the literature on irony, Sacerdoti brings together the bordering disciplines of psychoanalysis and aesthetics. Above all, he yokes aesthetic theory on irony to Freud's fundamental discoveries on the unconscious and instinctual conflict (ambivalence, ambiguity, contradiction and the coexistence of opposites).

Thus the mechanics of irony are extended, beyond the confines proposed in non psychoanalytical aesthetics, to include the functional processes of the preconscious and the unconscious. On the other hand, by the very integration of the dynamics of the unconscious and of instinctual conflicts with the process of irony, this latter becomes analogous to the rhetorical process, which governs unconscious functioning by the laws of condensation and displacement. of metaphor and metonym.

This methodological extension, which discerns irony in the unconscious and the unconscious in irony, and yields the concepts of “latent irony” and “ironic work”, enables Sacerdoti to highlight a particular feature of the metapsychological model of knowledge — namely, that the movement of thought during analysis unfolds by a process of irony through continuous alternation between obfuscatory and revelatory ploys.

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