This essay locates writing and literary experience on a spectrum of human activities that engage not only language and text, but also unconscious fantasies of the body. It explores possible contexts in psychoanalytic and literary theory for understanding a reader's experience of textuality in relation to experiences and fantasies of the infantile body. Using Freud's own dream analyses and his work with hysteria, in relation to the theory of infantile sexuality, the essay examines the fluid interchanges between subject and object, text and body that form part of both analytic and literary experience. To illustrate more fully the intersection between psychoanalytic and literary experience, the essay concludes with some thoughts as to the place of the body in the diaries of Alice James and in the late fiction of her novelist brother, Henry James.
Crashaw, Richard, 1613?-1649 -- Criticism and interpretation.
Devotional literature, English -- Psychological aspects.
Abjection in literature.
Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror (1980) offers a compelling framework for reading the seventeenth-century baroque poet, Richard Crashaw. Kristeva understands abjection as the horror resulting from the collapse of the psychic borders between what is clean and unclean, inside and outside the control of the body. Both writers draw inspiration from the devotional practices of late medieval women mystics. But whereas Kristeva focuses on the semiotic communication between the preoedipal mother and child, Crashaw's engagement with the language of feminine piety had its source in the library of his Protestant father, William Crashaw, who collected the Catholic literature he would denounce from the pulpit. Abjection was the psychic mechanism that allowed Richard Crashaw to break down his father's distinction between the "clean" Protestant self and the loathed Catholic other still attached, like the Christ child, to the maternal breast of Mary. In the divine epigram, "Blessed be the paps which Thou hast sucked," Crashaw conflates religion and sex, the sacred and the somatic, through abject images of milk, saliva, blood, semen and their bodily sources—mouth, breast, genitals, and anus—to say yes to the unthinkable.
This paper re-examines the philosophical debate surrounding the issue of moral luck through the lens of Freudian psychoanalytic theory. The author argues that Freud's writings on moral luck, which have not previously been discussed in this context, provide not only a cogent explanation for the reasons behind the existence of moral luck but also a compelling argument for the constitutive role played by moral luck in the formation of moral agency and moral identity. Freud's own example of a story by Mark Twain, "The First Melon I Ever Stole," is explored in this context and compared to other more typical examples of moral luck as is another example of moral luck having to do with the theft of pears drawn from the writings of St. Augustine.
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910 -- Criticism and interpretation.
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910 -- Psychology.
Conscience in literature.
This paper offers a Kleinian analysis of Mark Twain's hostile depictions of the human conscience. Following a brief, initial consideration of such writings as Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee, and What Is Man?, the paper focuses on the 1876 short story, "The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut," a fictionalized adventure in paranoia and manic defense against a persecutory conscience. A close reading establishes that while Twain's narrator displays all the paranoid-schizoid "hallmarks" as described by Melanie Klein (delusional omnipotence, splitting, paranoia, etc.), he also displays the capacity for guilt and remorse that Klein associates with the depressive position. In his retreat from that guilt he lapses into the paranoid-schizoid behavior associated with manic defense, and ultimately realizes the psychotic fantasy that concludes the story: the utter destruction of his conscience. This exegesis provides the first sustained Kleinian interpretation of Mark Twain's fiction.