Johnson's Freud

Adam Phillips

in Samuel Johnson

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199654345
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745003 | DOI:
Johnson's Freud

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‘Johnson's Freud’ is about whether it is useful to think of Johnson as in any sense a precursor of Freud. It investigates aspects of resistance, repression, and change as characteristic of Johnson's mind and prose style, and how these may be read in the light of subsequent knowledge. Both Freud and Johnson were struck by the potentially disruptive tendencies of the mind; so much so, in fact, that each of them stressed the disciplines necessary to contain it. But Johnson's aesthetic might be said to free us, in a way that Freud's does not. This chapter investigates the gains and losses of comparing Johnson and Freud, via readings of such twentieth-century critics of Johnson as Donald Davie, Walter Jackson Bate and T. S. Eliot.

Keywords: Samuel Johnson; Rasselas; Freud; prose style; Walter Jackson Bate; Donald Davie; T. S. Eliot

Chapter.  4581 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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