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Koenigsberg, R.A. (1967). F. Scott Fitzgerald: Literature and the Work of Mourning. Am. Imago, 24(3):248-270.

(1967). American Imago, 24(3):248-270

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Literature and the Work of Mourning

Richard A. Koenigsberg

In early psychoanalytic work on the writer (13) the process of literary creation is viewed in terms of the psychology of the dream. The writer is seen to be involved in the effort to find expression for infantile wishes, and to represent these wishes as fulfilled in such a manner that he, as well as his audience, are able to achieve a maximum of gratification with a minimum of guilt. This idea is related as well to Freud's theory of wit: the work of art, like the joke, is seen to be the occasion for the discharge of instinctual energy, accomplishing its purpose through complex maneouvers which are designed to assuage the super-ego. This conception of the function of literary creation, very clearly, derives its emphasis from Freud's initial preoccupation with the psychology of the id.

It is the purpose of this paper to examine the work of one author in which creative activity is guided by other purposes. For F. Scott Fitzgerald, the act of literary creation serves only peripherally to provide the occasion for the gratification of infantile wishes; it is focused more importantly upon the ego's effort to heal itself, to master a previously unresolved infantile trauma. Specifically, Fitzgerald's work involves the attempt to bring into consciousness his fixation upon his mother, and simultaneously, to dissolve this fixation through the work of mourning.

The conception of the function of literary creation which is developed in this paper emphasizes the role of the integrative processes of the ego. This does not mean, however, that the wish-fulfilling aspects of the creative act are absent. Indeed, an activity as complex as writing can fulfill many motives, and function in the service of many components of the personality. A comprehensive theory of the psychological function of literary creation can only emerge through empirical studies of particular writers, of which the present one is offered as an example.

Since

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