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274Philosophy and Literature In response to my letter expressing curiosity over die absence of any current, grand critical discoveries in American literature, Melvillean Merton Sealts recendy wrote that "die ground has virtually been pulverized, there can be few more Great Original Discoveries." Given Sealts's pulverized ground, is Rowe's intertextual strategy helpful? Judging from the fruits of his labor, specifically his critical readings of the literature, I would have to say yes. In each chapter, though I had to struggle dirough the jargon and numerous digressions, I found several thought-provoking comments. On the whole, however, despite diese refreshing oases of insight, I hesitate to embrace fully Through the Custom-House. My hesitancy arises in view of the apparent price Rowe's intertextuality must pay in order to link literature with modern dieory. The book makes few distinctions between the audiors or their work; they all appear to be writing the same "prose text." Does adi literature, American or otherwise, dove-tail widi modern theory? Rowe gives no reason to diink differendy. Certainly there is a way to avoid the undifferentiated topography of his intertextuality and still hold an informative dialogue between literature and modern theory. University of ChicagoCarl Dolan The Legend ofFreud, by Samuel Weber; intro. Joseph H. Smith, M.D.; xvii & 179 pp. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982, $25.00 hardbound, $10.95 paper. In diis rigorous critique of Freud's texts, Weber asks: what is the relation between the unconscious and die theory that attempts to describe it? If Freud is right about the nature of consciousness, dien the legitimacy of his own methods is called into question. Freud bases his findings, for example, on observation, even though he knows it is "a function of conflictual desires, and not merely the response or reaction to an object" (p. 25). In defending the objectivity of his science, Freud must "forget" this knowledge since it "cannot but affect the status of psychoanalytic cognition itself" (p. 25). Weber's book begins widi an important episode in the legend of Freud, the consolidation of psychoanalysis into a discipline and the subsequent expulsion of Adler and Jung. Freud accuses Adler ofperforming a "secondary revision" on his material, mat is, of shaping it into a coherent system that not only dissimulates its true meaning but disguises its own ruse. But if secondary revision is a function of conscious diought in general and a necessary part of the ego's quest for totality, can Freud's metapsychology escape the charge he levels at Adler? Weber argues that interpretation, and afortiori, the interpretation of dreams, is not a metalanguage uncontaminated by its object, but an Entstellung, distortion or dislocation, a "de-presentation" (as opposed to Darstellung, representation). Analyzing the notions of repression, anxiety, and the primary and secondary processes, Weber shows diat Freud's Reviews275 writing "ineluctably diverges from the prepositional content of its individual assertions" (p. 34). What the Entstellung reveals is Freud's struggle and his desire to apprehend the unconscious that constandy eludes capture. Thus, Freud's discovery diatjokes depend for their success — that is, their identity asjokes — on an explosion of laughter, where the person does not even know why he is laughing, threatens to turn the theory ofjokes into a joke on theory. Throughout the book, and especially in his reading of Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Weber stresses the importance of narrative in the ego's drive to organize. Just as the "castration story" masters sexual difference by interpreting it as a lost presence, Freud's speculations on the death drive reduce alterity to a repetition of the same, the modification of an origin. Thus, although Weber does not deal directly with Freud's impact on the study of literature, his book addresses die fundamental literary questions of interpretation, narrative , and implicitly, translation. One of the book's strengths is Weber's clear, concise writing which avoids die stylistic eccentricities of the French Freudians to whom Weber is indebted. Nevertheless, The Legend ofFreud is not simply a faulty translation, a secondary revision of the oneiric style of Lacan, Derrida, or Irigaray. Despite a surprisingly conventional view of translation — he considers the Standard Edition a secondary revision of Freud's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 274-275
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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