Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedy and Modern Identities

Paperback | June 25, 2009

byRachel Bowlby

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More than a hundred years ago, Freud made a new mythology by revising an old one: Oedipus, in Sophocles' tragedy the legendary perpetrator of shocking crimes, was an Everyman whose story of incest and parricide represented the fulfilment of universal and long forgotten childhood wishes. TheOedipus complex - child, mother, father - suited the nuclear families of the mid-twentieth century. But a century after the arrival of the psychoanalytic Oedipus, it might seem that modern lives are very much changed. Typical family formations and norms of sexual attachment are changing, while theconditions of sexual difference, both biologically and socially, have undergone far-reaching modifications. Today, it is possible to choose and live subjective stories that the first psychoanalytic patients could only dream of. Different troubles and enjoyments are speakable and unspeakable;different selves are rejected, discovered, or sought. Many kinds of hitherto unrepresented or unrepresentable identity have entered into the ordinary surrounding stories through which children and adults find their bearings in the world, while others have become obsolete. Biographical narrativesthat would previously have seemed unthinkable or incredible--'a likely story!'--have acquired the straightforward plausibility of a likely story.This book takes two Freudian routes to think about some of the present entanglements of identity. First, it follows Freud in returning to Greek tragedies - Oedipus and others - which may now appear strikingly different in the light of today's issues of family and sexuality. And second, itre-examines Freud's own theories from these newer perspectives, drawing out different strands of his stories of how children develop and how people change (or don't). Both kinds of mythology, the classical and the theoretical, may now, in their difference, illuminate some of the forming stories ofour contemporary world of serial families, multiple sexualities, and new reproductive technologies.

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More than a hundred years ago, Freud made a new mythology by revising an old one: Oedipus, in Sophocles' tragedy the legendary perpetrator of shocking crimes, was an Everyman whose story of incest and parricide represented the fulfilment of universal and long forgotten childhood wishes. TheOedipus complex - child, mother, father - suit...

After a PhD in Comparative Literature at Yale University, Rachel Bowlby taught at the universities of Sussex, Oxford, and York. In 2004 she moved to University College London where she is Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature. She has written books on the history of shopping (iJust Looking, Carried Away/i), on psychoanaly...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.01 inPublished:June 25, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199566224

ISBN - 13:9780199566228

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Table of Contents

1. Freud's Classical Mythologies2. Never Done, Never to Return: Hysteria and After3. Fifty Fifty: Female Subjectivity and the Danaids4. The Other Day: The Interpretation of Daydreams5. A Freudian Curiosity6. The Cronus Complex: Psychoanalytic Myths of the Future for Boys and Girls7. Oedipal Origins8. Playing God: Reproductive Realism in Euripides' iIon/i9. Retranslations, Reproductions, Recapitulations

Editorial Reviews

`[this] lively and engaging new book... engrossing and enriching re-readings of Freud and his texts of reference.'Peter Brooks, Times Literary Supplement