THE DESTRUCTIVE ELEMENT : ENGLISH PSYCHOANALYSIS, LITERATURE AND CRITICISM FROM THE 1920S TO WORLD WAR TWO.
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Whereas recent studies of psychoanalysis and modernism have tended to 'translate' literature through contemporary French psychoanalytic thought, this dissertation opens up a historical dialogue between English psychoanalysis, modernist writing, art criticism and literary criticism. I argue that a shared anxiety about the redemptive role of art in a period which both writers and analysts characterise as marked by 'unsublimated' drives towards destruction, is coupled with an increasing concern with the precariousness of the frontier between self and culture, and between art and the social and political ideologies upon which culture rests. This double movement is reflected in the structure of the dissertation which begins with a comparison of attempts to make a moral and~aesthetic out of 'the destructive element' by I.A. Richards and Melanie Klein, and ends with Marion Milner's and Stevie Smith's speculations on the complicity between the violence of the self and the violence of the outside world in the thirties. Other writers discussed include W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, Roger Fry and Virginia Woolf, as well as Ella Freeman Sharpe, Paula Heimann, Hanna Segal and Adrian Stokes.
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