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Yeomans, F. (1987). Jacques Lacan: The Death of an Intellectual Hero: By Stuart Schneiderman. Cambridge, Mass./London: Harvard University Press, 1983. 182 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 56:377-380.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:377-380

Jacques Lacan: The Death of an Intellectual Hero: By Stuart Schneiderman. Cambridge, Mass./London: Harvard University Press, 1983. 182 pp.

Review by:
Frank Yeomans

It is easy to dislike this book—to object to its style, which is irritating in its false informality and self-conscious preciosity, to object to its structure, a rambling "reminiscence," and to object to its content, which borders on hero worship and falls into criticism of perceived enemies. Indeed, the first chapter in particular seems to challenge the reader to stop reading. It is subjective with a vengeance, suggesting that the book may reveal more about Schneiderman than about Lacan. It also abounds in the associative leaps that are among the more annoying features of the book. An example is: "I have just said that the empty set, whose name is zero, corresponds to the empty grave. I could also have said that it represents the mother's lack of a phallus …" (p. 7).

However, the book does offer rewards to the reader who persists. One is a feel for the experience of the "Lacan phenomenon" in the Paris of the 1970's. Schneiderman does not offer a systematic history of the movement, such as is provided in Sherry Turkle's Psychoanalytic Politics, but rather a vivid portrait of the mood in a city whose intellectual life revolved around psychoanalysis for a decade, replete with a "seminar" with five hundred in regular attendance, a new university offering diplomas in clinical psychoanalysis, and struggles between psychiatrists and philosophers for control of an institute whose founder was the subject of coverage in the mass media. The account, though it is somewhat nostalgic, does not idealize the events.

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