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Gomberg, H. (1989). Rat Man: By Stuart Schneiderman. New York/London: New York University Press, 1986. 115 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:257-260.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:257-260

Rat Man: By Stuart Schneiderman. New York/London: New York University Press, 1986. 115 pp.

Review by:
Herbert Gomberg

In his preface, Stuart Schneiderman states his goals: "… to provide for American and English readers a presentation of the kind of teaching that was being offered in France under the aegis of Lacan" (p. vii), and to provide "a first presentation of Lacan in Lacan's terms and not in the terms of others who have ignored him and who represent completely different attitudes. That such a presentation is instructive is the position on which I wager in this book. If you should find that the theoretical cost, the cost in intelligibility and incisiveness, is not too high, I will have succeeded" (p. x).

Schneiderman's method is "a close reading of the case of the patient who had come to be known as the Rat Man" (p. vii). After an opening statement, Rat Man roughly follows the order of Freud's case history in a free commentary, in Lacanian terms, upon the significance of the text. From the first, a conventionally trained American analyst is presented with a problem: Lacan, even Lacan as we hear him through Schneiderman, speaks in a different language, a language difficult to understand. I do not mean simply the difficulty of rendering some of Lacan's concepts into English from their original French, not an easy task in itself, especially in light of Lacan's notorious, deliberate, and provocative obscurity of style; just as significant is his grounding in an intellectual tradition of nineteenth and twentieth century French and German philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, literature, and literary criticism, not necessarily familiar to an American reader.

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