Promises, Promises: Essays on Psychoanalysis and Literature

Within a year of the publication of , Shakespeare was back to press with another long narrative poem. This time he chose a seven-line stanza rhyming (rhyme royal, a verse form whose tradition in English poetry extended all the way back to ), and once again he drew on Ovid for a work dedicated (this time even more warmly) to the Earl of Southampton. If is most aptly approached as a quasi-comic treatment of love (depicting the frustrations of an insatiate goddess who falls all over herself as she fumbles to seduce an unresponsive youth), despite the fact that it ends with the death of the innocent young mortal, is more properly described as a tragic "complaint," a moving exploration of the personal and social consequences of a noble Roman's surrender to lust, against his better nature and at the cost, ultimately, of both his victim's life and his own. In his foreword to , Shakespeare had promised the dedicatee "a graver labor" if his first offering pleased its would-be patron; in all likelihood, then, was under way as a companion piece to at least a year before its eventual publication in 1594. It may be, as some have suggested, that Shakespeare's narrative of Tarquin's rape of Lucrece and her suicide was motivated by a desire to persuade anyone who might have considered the earlier work frivolous that the poet's muse was equally capable of a more serious subject. In any case it is clear that once again he struck a responsive chord: went through eight editions prior to 1640, and it seems to have been exceeded in popularity only by .

Promises Promises Essays On Literature And Psychoanalysis

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Promises Essays On Psychoanalysis And Literature

Adam Phillips (Psychoanalyst and Writer) with Dr Monica Pearl (Lecturer in 20th Century American Literature, EAC, UoM) and Professor Ian Parker (psychoanalyst, Manchester Psychoanalytic Matrix)

essays on literature and psychoanalysis …

In the preface to his collection of essays, Adam Phillips raises similar questions about how literature and serve each other. He asks, what are the languages of literature and good for, and what do they have to do with each other? He answers by creating a dialogue between himself as psychoanalyst-critic and the literature he reads, with the assumption that has value in its cultural contingency and in the many texts in its words. He also assumes that the process and goals of reading and are the same as : they are both attempts at discovery of more internal life. In his view, they both try to help patients-analysts or readers-writers discover whatever stirs their curiosity and gives them the feeling of more alive, and part of this process requires the that needs no new theories from writers, but only good sentences that will keep words alive. Using Winnicott's assumptions about the value of play to

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Essays on Literature and Psychoanalysis

Orphaned at an early age and reared as a waiting-gentlewoman to the elegant and sensitive Countess of Rossillion, Helena presumes to fall in love with the Countess's snobbish son Bertram. Using a cure she learned from her dead father, who had been a prominent physician, Helena saves the life of the ailing King of France, whereupon she is rewarded with marriage to the man of her choice among all the eligible bachelors in the land. She astonishes Bertram by selecting him. Reluctantly, Bertram consents to matrimony, but before the marriage can be consummated he leaves the country with his disreputable friend Parolles, telling Helena in a note that he will be hers only when she has fulfilled two presumably impossible conditions: won back the ring from his finger and borne a childe to him. Disguised as a pilgrim, Helena follows Bertram to Florence. There she substitutes herself for a woman named Diana, with whom Bertram has made an assignation, and satisfies the despicable Bertram's demands.

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Promises promises essays on literature and psychoanalysis

To a far greater degree than with most sonnet sequences, Shakespeare's have "the ring of truth." This is partly because, like all his works (from his earliest plays onward), they portray humanity so convincingly. But it is also a consequence of the extent to which they seem to go beyond, or even to disregard, convention. Thus, instead of praising a lady by cataloging all the attributes that make her lovely, Shakespeare turns Petrarchan tradition on its head by denying his "dark lady" any of the expected beauties and virtues. "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun," he says in Sonnet 130; and far from being ethereal and inaccessible in her idealized spirituality, the woman described in Shakespeare's is sensual, coarse, and promiscuous. Petrarch's Laura may have inspired that earlier poet to Platonic transcendence, but Shakespeare's mistress leaves only the bitter aftertaste of "Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame," "A bliss in proof, and prov'd, a very woe" (Sonnet 129). And what is more, she alienates the affection of the fair young man to whom most of the first 127 sonnets in the sequence are addressed: the friend who occasions some of the deepest verses in English on such themes as fidelity, stewardship (Shakespeare seems to have been preoccupied with the Parable of the Talents, as rendered in Matthew 25: 14-30), and man's struggle against "never-resting time."

Promises, Promises: Essays on Literature and Psychoanalysis Adam Phillips Faber £10, pp240

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As a character, Timon has affinities with Lear and Coriolanus. Like Lear, he comes to think of himself as a victim of ingratitude, a man "more sinned against than sinning." And, like Coriolanus, he responds to his mistreatment by "banishing" all society from his presence. Unlike either character, however, Timon is incapable of growth or compromise. Once he has spurned the "friends" who have refused to help him with the creditors his excessive generosity has brought to the door, Timon retreats to a cave and disregards every entreaty to concern himself with his fellow man. His foil, Alcibiades, can forgive Athens its injustices and return to save the city from ruin. But Timon elects to spend the rest of his life in solitude, cursing all of humanity with an invective that eventually becomes tedious in the extreme.