Grief-substitutes, or, Why Melanie Klein Is So Funny

Simon Morgan Wortham

in Modern Thought in Pain

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2014 | ISBN: 9780748692415
Published online September 2015 | e-ISBN: 9781474408660 | DOI:

Series: The Frontiers of Theory EUP

Grief-substitutes, or, Why Melanie Klein Is So Funny

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This chapter focuses on Melanie Klein in which the question of what may survive is once more critical. It is Klein whose writings for Julia Kristeva confirm Proust's assertion that ‘ideas come to us as the substitutes for griefs’. Klein charts the passage, during early infancy, from the psychotic-schizoid to the depressive position. This represents an attempt to overcome, through a process of integration, an original set of object-relations in which the other and the self are radically fragmented. The chapter explores the potential for dark humour within Klein's often somewhat bleak writings and poses the question of its possible limits. Turning to one of her very last essays, on loneliness, it argues that it is our loneliness — in a Kleinian sense — that may outlive us, even and perhaps especially in the creative works we undertake in order to confront it.

Keywords: Melanie Klein; Julia Kristeva; loneliness; grief; dark humour

Chapter.  5106 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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