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Figures of the Pre-Freudian Unconscious from Flaubert to Proust

by Michael R. Finn

Figures of the Pre-Freudian Unconscious from Flaubert to Proust Synopsis

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 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 Finn is able to show the work of such writers in a completely new light.

Figures of the Pre-Freudian Unconscious from Flaubert to Proust Press Reviews

'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

Book Information

ISBN: 9781107184565
Publication date: 25th July 2017
Author: Michael R. Finn
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 250 pages
Categories: Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Conscious & unconscious,

About Michael R. Finn

Michael 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.

More About Michael R. Finn

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