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Stanton, M. (1989). The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller: vol. 1, ‘Freud's Papers on Technique 1953-1954’, translated by John Forrester, and vol. 2, ‘The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954-1955’, translated by Sylvana Tomaselli (notes for volumes 1 and 2 by John Forrester) Cambridge University Press, 1988, ix + 314 and x + 343 pages respectively, each volume hb £35.00, pb £12.50. Free Associations, 1W(18):142-148.

(1989). Free Associations, 1W(18):142-148

The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller: vol. 1, ‘Freud's Papers on Technique 1953-1954’, translated by John Forrester, and vol. 2, ‘The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis 1954-1955’, translated by Sylvana Tomaselli (notes for volumes 1 and 2 by John Forrester) Cambridge University Press, 1988, ix + 314 and x + 343 pages respectively, each volume hb £35.00, pb £12.50

Review by:
Martin Stanton

Anglophones now expect to find any discussion of Jacques Lacan's work prefaced by lengthy reminders of how ‘complex’ it is, and warnings that special effort will be required to appreciate ‘… the fact that he writes difficult prose in a highly idiosyncratic manner …’ (Forrester, 1987, p. 74). It is always assumed, however, that careful textual study will be rewarded by a sense of profound consistency and continuity, so that themes in the Lacanian canon can ultimately be observed unfolding in different registers. Despite the heavy ornament, and the anarchic tendency to break loose and invent new terminology, there is something formulaic at work: ‘Lacan continually returned to a relatively constant set of cultural and conceptual triangulation points or ever-fruitful problems’ (p. 69). In this context The Seminar assumed a special importance, because here the formulae are set out in strict chronology, and we are promised twenty-four volumes that progress from the year 1953:

If there is one means by which psychoanalysts can come to understand Lacan, it is surely through the transcripts of the teaching he offered to analysts undergoing training each year … to those who are not analysts, these seminars may offer something comparable to Freud's Introductory Lectures: something more accessible, more inviting, more seductive even than his other writings, and yet very much the genuine article … (p. 77)

On these grounds, The Seminar, Volumes 1 and 2, offer to English readers for the first time an excursion into Lacan's commentaries on crucial Freudian terms and texts such as Dora, the Wolf Man, and the dream of Irma's injection, as well as clinical discussion of a child analysis — Rosine and Robert Lefort's case of the ‘wolf boy’.

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