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Wilgowicz, P. (1996). La Naissance d'Oedipe [The Birth Of Oedipus]. : By Jean Bollack. Paris: Gallimard. 1995. Pp. 349.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:421-423.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:421-423

La Naissance d'Oedipe [The Birth Of Oedipus]. : By Jean Bollack. Paris: Gallimard. 1995. Pp. 349.

Review by:
Perel Wilgowicz

Sophocles's King Oedipus, translated into French and provided with a commentary by Jean Bollack, a philologist of considerable erudition and culture, is essential reading for any psychoanalyst today. The author undertakes a critical reconstruction of the interpretations of the tragedy, taking account of the time and background of the interpreters' reading and the history of the text; he concentrates on the sense as fixed when the work was set down in writing, with a view to separating it out from the systems of thought underlying traditional scholarly discussion, whether ancient, Byzantine or modern. For him, philology has the means to acquaint us with the linguistic or social make-up of an era. The tragedy is more epic than myth, examining as it does the raw data of the myth in a distancing process that organises ‘the verbal space from which the dramatic action emerges’. The destiny of Oedipus thus revisited is no longer what it was when Freud laid down its essence for the psychoanalysts. By the innovative light Bollack casts on the play, he substantially alters the Freudian perspective, linking the history of the son of Laius with that of the House of Labdacus in a new way. In scrutinising his past, the hero of the tragedy goes back to the origins of the race that had cast him out; he is the heir of the history of the genos.

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