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Martin, J. (1989). The Psychoanalytic Study of Literature: Edited by Joseph Reppen, Ph.D. and Maurice Charney, Ph.D. Hillsdale, NJ/London: The Analytic Press, 1985. 290 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:128-131.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:128-131

The Psychoanalytic Study of Literature: Edited by Joseph Reppen, Ph.D. and Maurice Charney, Ph.D. Hillsdale, NJ/London: The Analytic Press, 1985. 290 pp.

Review by:
Jay Martin

This collection of thirteen essays deals with more than psychoanalysis and literature. Going far beyond its title, it also contains studies of cinema, linguistics, philosophy, literary theory, and rhetoric. Like many such collections, it offers something of interest to almost anyone. The essays are so uneven in quality, however, so inconsistent in their assumptions, so varied in their intellectual and ideological emphases, and so different in their fundamental understanding of both literature and psychoanalysis that no reader is likely to find all the essays worth attention. Many readers will find it impossible to read straight through the book without tedium. This book is best tasted, not swallowed whole.

The editors have hindered rather than helped the sampling process by using misleading section titles and arrangements of essays. Take the first three section titles: "Freudian Concepts and the Literary Process," "Clinical Approaches to Creativity," and "Freud, Philosophy, and Linguistics." The initial essay in the first section applies principles of literary criticism to Freudian concepts, not psychoanalysis to literature. The "clinical" essay—Irving Schneider's thorough account of the representations of psychiatrists in films—is not in the slightest clinical; it is purely historical. Roger B. Henkle's essay on the comic is concerned neither with philosophy nor linguistics, and only peripherally with Freud. Henkle's interesting essay is "psychocultural" in spirit. However, the two essays that are included under that rubric are not. One is concerned with authorial reconstruction and the other with literary "transference."

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