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Wesley, P.A. (1984). Flaubert and Kafka. Studies in Psychopoetic Structure: By Charles Bernheimer. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982. 261 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 53:626-632.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:626-632

Flaubert and Kafka. Studies in Psychopoetic Structure: By Charles Bernheimer. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982. 261 pp.

Review by:
Patricia A. Wesley

Despite its sophisticated scholarship, close reading of the language of fiction, and elegant thesis, this book runs aground on the shoals that have always made psychoanalytic criticism of literature a hazardous undertaking. Yet, sometimes bold sailings that end with a sleek new packet stranded on the same old tricky reefs provide valuable lessons for future sailors—both psychoanalytic and literary. So it is with Bernheimer's book, for it embodies the dilemmas inherent in applying concepts about human psychological development and functioning to literature.

Psychoanalytic literary criticism typically focuses on content, forgetting that innovative literature is unique in how it says rather than in what it says.

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