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Between Author and Reader : A Psychoanalytic Approach to Writing and Reading
Coen, Stanley J.
Columbia University Press / Softcover / 1994-03-01 / 0231073577
Psychoanalysis & Literature
price: $49.00 (may be subject to change)
210 pages
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In Between Author and Reader a psychoanalyst demonstrates through a series of careful readings that a psychoanalytic reading of a literary work, in which one is aware of the response the writer is trying to elicit from the reader, greatly enhances one's understanding of the work. Coen asks what the author and the reader want from each other and how they cope with these needs in their literary encounters. The book examines problems of methodology in psychoanalytic literary criticism, the uses of psychoanalysis in literary criticism, and models of the psychology of reading and writing. Central to Coen's argument is the conviction that psychoanalytic literary criticism does not draw primarily on abstract psychoanalytic theory, but rather on the skilful, complex exploration of one's reading experience, which is enriched by the reader's access to his or her own feelings and needs. Coen advocates that readers access, while reading, as much of his or her inner experience as possible, just as the practicing psychoanalyst must be able to feel and need along with his patient, and then subject these needs to self-scrutiny for the sake of understanding his patient. Coen is particularly interested in perversion and in pathological dependency, and the writers he examines in this book--Jean Genet, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, the Marquis de Sade, and Freud and Fleiss--through their correspondence reflect those interests. Each of the three novelists, with their decadent, shocking descriptions of perverse sexuality, demonstrates an extraordinary demand for attention from and acceptance by the reader. This acceptance helps the author manage the intolerable dark side of his psyche.

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