Psychoanalysis and the poem: on reading in Sandor Ferenczi and D.W. Winnicott

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Autumn 2014
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This article examines how returning to the question of interpretation in twentieth-century psychoanalysis can help us readdress the discipline’s bearing on literary studies, in particular the study of poetry. Reading the work of Sándor Ferenczi and D.W. Winnicott, the article sets out their responses to well-documented controversies surrounding psychoanalytic interpretation. Using original research on the correspondence of both analysts and key references to poetry and ‘the poetic’ in their writing, I examine how their theories of interpretation rely on notions not only of language but of poetry, and how this reliance prompts us to consider the implications of their conclusions for the project of critical reading. These analysts’ understanding of aesthetic as well as psychoanalytic relationship stretches our sense of what interpretation is for and what impulses might be behind it. The status of poetry in their work invites us to bring this discussion back into the field of literature.

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New Formations 83 - Writing and Resistance