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On Complaining

Elif Batuman: How to Stay Sane, 20 November 2008

Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by William McCuaig.
Columbia, 184 pp., £15.50, November 2008, 978 0 231 14300 4
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... conceptuality to which belonged names like … Gaston Bachelard, Spinoza, Hegel, Montesquieu and Freud’. As Flaubert’s dictionary is alphabetically ordered, so Roudinesco proceeds from one argument to the next on the basis of puns or metaphors. Take her treatment of ‘revisionism’, which she identifies as one of our chief contemporary ...


Adam Phillips: ‘Down Girl’, 7 March 2019

Down Girl: the Logic of Misogyny 
by Kate Manne.
Penguin, 338 pp., £9.99, March 2019, 978 0 14 199072 9
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... But, as one of my supervisors said to me, ‘No one can ever really forgive their mother.’ Freud, however, had been more preoccupied by fathers, differing in this respect from the prominent British child analysts Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott and John Bowlby. Questions were asked about the ...

Casualty Reports

Robert Taubman, 5 February 1981

The White Hotel 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 240 pp., £6.95, January 1981, 0 575 02889 0
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Riddley Walker 
by Russell Hoban.
Cape, 220 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 224 01851 5
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The Last Crime 
by John Domatilla.
Heinemann, 155 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 434 20090 5
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... Anna G. presents herself to Sigmund Freud in Vienna in 1919 suffering from severe breast and ovary pains, diagnosed as hysterical in origin. We are to suppose that her case not only helped Freud with Beyond the Pleasure Principle and his theory of the death instinct, but that he intended his paper on the case, along with the patient’s pornographic writings, to be published in honour of the Goethe centenary in 1932 ...

The Housekeeper of a World-Shattering Theory

Jenny Diski: Mrs Freud, 23 March 2006

Martha FreudA Biography 
by Katja Behling, translated by R.D.V. Glasgow.
Polity, 206 pp., £25, January 2006, 0 7456 3338 2
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... In the membership roll of the worshipful guild of enabling wives, the name of Martha Freud ranks with the greatest: Mrs Noah, Mrs Darwin, Mrs Marx, Mrs Joyce, Mrs Nabokov, Mrs Clinton, and their honorary fellows, Mr Woolf and Mr Cookson. Wives, of either sex, are what keep the universe orderly and quiet enough for the great to think their thoughts, complete their travels, write their books and change the world ...

Women against Men

Anita Brookner, 2 September 1982

The Golden Notebook 
by Doris Lessing.
Joseph, 638 pp., £9.95, July 1982, 0 7181 0970 8
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... attempt to give an accurate picture of mid-20th-century England, much as Le Rouge et le Noir and Anna Karenina had set out to do for the France and the Russia of their time. This is Doris Lessing’s explicit intention. In a confused and defensive preface, written for the edition of 1972, she states her dissatisfaction with the English tradition and asserts ...


Brian Dillon: Michael Ondaatje, 13 December 2007

by Michael Ondaatje.
Bloomsbury, 273 pp., £17.99, September 2007, 978 0 7475 8924 2
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... whose parents have been murdered by a farm hand. His wife dies giving birth to their daughter, Anna. He leaves the hospital with two girls: the second, Claire, is the daughter of another mother who has died in childbirth. He raises all three children as his own and now and then, Anna later remembers, embraces them ‘as ...

Gentlemen’s Spleen

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen: Hysterical Men, 27 August 2009

Hysterical Men: The Hidden History of Male Nervous Illness 
by Mark Micale.
Harvard, 366 pp., £19.95, December 2008, 978 0 674 03166 1
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... Mark Micale’s book opens with a scene from John Huston’s film Freud: The Secret Passion (1962), which re-creates one of Jean-Martin Charcot’s legendary demonstrations of hypnosis before an audience of doctors at the Salpêtrière. With magical ease, Charcot makes two patients’ hysterical symptoms disappear ...


Sherry Turkle: Lacan and Co, 6 December 1990

Jacques Lacan and Co: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman.
Free Association, 816 pp., £25, December 1990, 9781853431630
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... Freud believed that psychoanalysis was so deeply subversive of people’s most cherished beliefs that only resistance to psychoanalytic ideas would reveal where they were being taken seriously. In 1914 he wrote that ‘the final decisive battle’ for psychoanalysis would be played out ‘where the greatest resistance has been displayed ...

Family Life

Penelope Fitzgerald, 25 March 1993

Poet and Dancer 
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Murray, 199 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 7195 5189 7
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Peerless Flats 
by Esther Freud.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £14.99, February 1993, 0 241 13385 8
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... she could go on.’ These two girls, Lara and Angel, are first cousins. Angel’s grandparents, Anna and Siegfried Manarr, arrived from Germany in the Twenties to run the New York branch of the family business. ‘Every day Siegfried left for an office and Anna saw him off, helping him into his coat.’ There is an exact ...

Mr. W. H.

James Lasdun, 5 February 2004

... mattresses we lay on, groping our way to that potent formula of pleasure, shame and repression Freud had construed long before as the jet-fuel of civilisation – the energy-flight from Eros to monuments, railways, war; and that listless, indoor golf course of a landscape’s gravel drives and laurel hedges, its buffed-to-a-gloss silver birches, its ...

Little Brother, Little Sister

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen: Hysteria, 24 May 2001

Mad Men and Medusas: Reclaiming Hysteria and the Effects of Sibling Relationships on the Human Condition 
by Juliet Mitchell.
Penguin, 381 pp., £9.99, December 2000, 0 14 017651 9
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... One of the arguments most commonly used by advocates of psychoanalysis during the recent ‘Freud wars’ has been to reproach their adversaries for holding fast to an outmoded version of their discipline. Psychoanalysis, they say, no longer bears much resemblance to what its founder had envisaged, so that criticism focusing on the historical ...
... White Hotel is this. There are six sections, prefaced by a fictional exchange of letters between Freud and colleagues about a confessional ‘poem’ written by a female patient of his, called Lisa Erdman, during a period of sexual hysteria which Freud wishes to write up as a case-history. The first section consists of ...

Above the Consulting-Room

John Sturrock, 26 March 1992

Le Séminaire, Vol VIII 
by Jacques Lacan.
Seuil, 464 pp., frs 190, March 1991, 2 02 012502 1
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Le Séminaire, Vol XVII 
by Jacques Lacan.
Seuil, 251 pp., frs 140, March 1991, 2 02 013044 0
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by Malcolm Bowie.
Fontana, 256 pp., £5.99, February 1991, 0 00 686076 1
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Return to FreudJacques Lacan’s Dislocation of Psychoanalysis 
by Samuel Weber.
Cambridge, 184 pp., £30, November 1991, 0 521 37410 3
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... of his theoretical papers that had been published in 1966. With the Ecrits, the claim was that Freud had finally been brought to France, and that France would have now, as Lacan himself might have franglicised it, to faire bye-bye to a smug and superannuated Cartesianism for which the idea of an unconscious mind was a contradiction in terms. But whether ...


Richard Wollheim, 22 June 1995

Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist and Society 
by Meyer Schapiro.
Braziller, 253 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 0 8076 1356 8
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... explanation is one possible variant, made available. The essay can be thought of as telling what Freud might have called a ‘Just-So Story’, since an issue of theory is engagingly disguised as a historical narrative. In the beginning, our ancestors made figurative images of the animals they hunted. In doing so, they paid no attention to the surface on ...

Cooking the Books

Anna Vaux: Desire and Susie Orbach, 27 April 2000

The Impossibility of Sex 
by Susie Orbach.
Allen Lane, 216 pp., £16.99, May 1999, 0 7139 9307 3
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... got when she gave a paper about one of her characters to fellow clinicians at a conference at the Freud Museum. ‘Participants inquired why “I” had followed one route and not another, suggested significances “I” had not seen in her symptoms and talked as though she were a real person, the therapist a real therapist and the case a real case.’ One ...

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