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Reviews 159 subject-position affords a space in which the subject is "able to claim rights, to protest, and to be capable, therefore, of devising a mode of resistance more focused than prophesying [182 ff.], witchcraft [185 ff.] or murder [Vittoria in The White Devil ana Beatrice-Joanna in The Changeling, for example, both enüst murderers to defy authority]" (221). Yet, Belsey hastens to stress that Uberai humanism is always attempting to "depoUticize, privatize, [and/or] psychologize" the space occupied by women. Even if the reader does not agree with all of Belsey's interpretations, her overall project is genuine and worthy of keen attention. Marxist studies have in recent years become more prevalent in Renaissance scholarship, and, as a result, The Subject of Tragedy may not appear to be the most original of books. Indeed, it has become commonplace to claim that humanist criticism reads itself into literature and that women have long been kept outside of the main discourses of power. For this reason one would have wished that Belsey had cited and engaged more thoroughly the proponents of the Uberai humanist tradition. A more detailed treatment of the "bad" critics (perhaps à la Richard Levin in New Readings vs. Old Plays [Chicago, 1979]) would have endowed the work with a more permanent value. It also would have prevented "Uberai humanism" from becoming a somewhat vague, catch-all term. Yet in spite of this deficiency, no one reading The Subject of Tragedy wiU for a moment doubt the reality and (weakening) power of a critical tradition sold on the idea that human subjects are somehow produced naturally and independently of social and economic conditions. Belsey's work is both a sign of and a cause for the waning of this tradition. IVO KAMPS Liberation and Its Limits: The Moral and Political Thought ofFreud by Jeffrey Abramson . New York: Free Press, 1984. pp. 160 + x. $14.95 (cloth). Over 90 years have passed since Sigmund Freud began his study ofthe mind. The discipUne of psychoanalysis which grew out of those studies continues to exert a profound impact upon the immediately related fields of psychiatry and cUnical psychology, as weU as upon the social sciences, neuroscience, Uterature and Uterary criticism, and philosophy. Freud's career as a psychoanalytic theorist and researcher began with specific and highly focused investigations into those phenomena with which he was faced in his day to day office practice: the puzzling amnesias, paralyses, and other somatic complaints of the hysteric patient, the crippling ruminations and rituals of the obsessive compulsive, and the anxieties, phobias, and sexual difficulties of other "neurotic types." These studies were accompanied by Freud's monumental works on dream interpretation, childhood sexuality, and such normally occurring phenomena as slips of the tongue, all of which served as pathways into the unconscious mind of Freud's patients, himself, and eventually, society as a whole. By the end of his life Freud had produced an extraordinary theory which he believed was suitable for understanding the most minute and idiosyncratic of an individual's actions, thoughts, or fantasies, as weU as being suitable for the explanation of the gravest problems of human civilization. Whether focused upon the suffering of a patient, or upon a world seemingly bent uopn destroying itself through warfare, Freud's psychoanalytic perspective relied upon certain key assumptions or ideas derived from the investigation ofthe psychology and psychodynamics of the individual. Any subsequent effort to apply Freud's insights about human behavior to situations beyond the couch and consulting room or to evaluate Freud's scholarly and scientific accompUshments must consider seriously these basic tenets of clinical psychoanalytic thinking. Liberation and Its Limits meets this requirement weU. Abramson presents Freud's central ideas about human behavior and the activities of the mind in a fresh and particularly weU integrated way as a prelude to and foundation for his specific discussion of Freud's theories of morality and the relationship of the individual to the life of the community. As described by Abramson, Freud concluded that all persons harbor within themselves unknown and unknowable wishes which are the psychological 160 the minnesota review representations of two basic, opposing biological instincts. Eros, the source of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 159-161
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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