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Figures of the Pre-Freudian Unconscious from Flaubert to Proust

  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316635964


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About the Authors
  • An original, wide-ranging contribution to the study of French writing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this book examines the ways in which the unconscious was understood in literature in the years before Freud. Exploring the influence of medical and psychological discourse over the existence and/or potential nature of the unconscious, Michael R. Finn discusses the resistance of feminists opposing medical diagnoses of the female brain as the seat of the unconscious, the hypnotism craze of the 1880s and the fascination, in fiction, with dual personality and posthypnotic crimes. The heart of the study explores how the unconscious inserts itself into the writing practice of Flaubert, Maupassant and Proust. Through the presentation of scientific evidence and quarrels about the psyche, Michael R. Finn is able to show the work of such writers in a completely new light.

    • An innovative examination of the ways in which the unconscious was incorporated into the works of major French writers including Flaubert and Proust in the time before Freud
    • The varied approach presents a range of scientific evidence and psychic arguments to showcase the writers' work in a completely new light
    • Makes a strong new contribution to the growing field of literature and medicine
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Clear and precise in its arguments, Finn's book draws illuminatingly on an impressive range of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sources, from medical treatises and theses, medical and cultural history to writers' correspondence, biography, literary fiction, reception studies and literary criticism. Finn has produced a book that enlivens our thinking and enriches our understanding of the place of pre-Freudian unconscious during a period when developments in medicine, psychology and psychiatry in France were informing and being reflected in creative writing of various sorts.' Adam Watt, University of Exeter

    '… an excellent and important project … This detailed rereading of scientific discourse is in turn enriched by literary deployments of psychic phenomena. The research is thorough. The claims made are original and insightful.' Janell Watson, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    'Finn charts the quarrels that took place in the second half of the nineteenth century over the very existence of the unconscious, and, later, the debates over the creative potential of the unconscious, all in anticipation of Freudian contributions and discoveries, and of Proustian thought. … The scope of the study is illuminating …' Kate Rees, French Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316635964
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.346kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Before Freud: The Quarrel of the Unconscious in Late Nineteenth-Century France
    1. Reflex action, unconscious cerebration, subliminal self
    2. The double brain and cerebral topography
    3. Hallucination and hypnotism
    4. The quarrel of the unconscious
    5. The French unconscious, Janet and Freud
    Part II. Flaubert: Hysterical Duality, Hallucination and Writing:
    6. The divided writer
    7. Flaubert bi-gendered
    8. Hector Landouzy, Salammbô and hysteria
    9. The critics and Flaubert's divided self
    10. Absorption, hallucination, writing stance
    Part III. Maupassant, Charcot and the Paranormal:
    11. Charcot, Le Horla and ambient psychic research
    12. 'Les magnétiseurs': Pickmann vs Donato
    13. Dualities and doubles
    14. Figuring the Maupassantian unconscious
    Part IV. The Unconscious Female/The Female Unconscious:
    15. Fictions of female physiology
    16. The late-century female brain and education
    17. Four female writers on the female brain
    18. Femme fatale, femme inconsciente
    Part V. Hypnotism, Dual Personalities and the Popular Novel:
    19. Experimental crimes, real crimes
    20. Dual personality, hypnotism and the French fin-de-siècle novel
    21. Sex, hypnotism and the unconscious
    22. A more sophisticated unconscious?
    Part VI. Proust, the Intellect and the Unconscious:
    23. Trials of the intellect
    24. The unconscious and creativity:
    25. The 'natural' unconscious: Proust and Maeterlinck
    26. Toward the Proustian unconscious
    26.A Willpower and the creative
    26.B Unconscious anticipation
    26.C Deep, behind, within: articulating the unconscious

  • Author

    Michael R. Finn, Ryerson University, Toronto
    Michael R. Finn is Emeritus Professor of French in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Ryerson University in Toronto. He has written widely on the connection between literature and medicine including the books Proust, the Body and Literary Form (Cambridge, 1999) and Hysteria, Hypnotism, the Spirits and Pornography (2009), as well as an extensive range of articles.

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