Did Oedipus "really" kill his father and marry his mother? Or is he nothing but a scapegoat, set up to take the blame for a crisis afflicting Thebes? For Rene Girard, the mythic accusations of patricide and incest are symptomatic of a plague-stricken community's hunt for a culprit to punish, and Girard succeeds in making us see an age-old myth in a wholly new light.
The hard-to-find writings assembled here include three major early essays, never before available in English, which afford a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the emergence of Girard's scapegoat theory from his pioneering analysis of rivalry and desire. Girard unbinds the Oedipal triangle from its Freudian moorings, replacing desire for the mother with desire for anyone--or anything--a rival desires. In a wide-ranging and provocative introduction, Mark R. Anspach presents fresh evidence for Girard's hypotheses from classical studies, literature, anthropology, and the life of Freud himself.