‘Interpreting (with) Freud’: Laplanche, Hoffmann and the Copernican Birth of Unconscious Drives

A plastic toy examines the head of another plastic toy
Exploring the Unconscious Mind, by Enrico (via Flickr (reproduced under CC BY 2.0 licence).

The French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche built on Sigmund Freud’s understandings of sexuality. James Wills’ article in the new issue of Postgraduate English traces how Laplanche interpreted Freud, and how in turn Laplanche can be used to interpret the writing of E.T.A. Hoffman.

This paper intends to correlate Laplanche’s complex theoretical development of Freud and his creation of a ‘Copernican’ general theory of seduction, focusing on the concept of the ‘enigmatic signifier’ and its relation to a reconceived concept of the drive. This psychoanalytic framework is then applied to E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Mademoiselle de Scudery and the character of master-jeweller René Cardillac. When viewed through a Laplanchian optic, I propose the jewels, a highly psycho-significant object in the novella, particularly in its primal scene, become distinctively re-positioned; re-centered as the mysterious, yet controlling, internal other.

This article is available to download free in issue 32 of our open access Postgraduate English journal, where you’ll also find a complete archive of research dating back to 2000.


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