Writers among the ruins: Freud, Conrad, and the psychomythology of memory

Kolocotroni, V. (2010) Writers among the ruins: Freud, Conrad, and the psychomythology of memory. English, 59(225), pp. 154-173. (doi: 10.1093/english/efp042)

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The writing of Sigmund Freud and Joseph Conrad at the turn of the nineteenth century mounts a critique of the blindspots of enlightened humanity. Though differently invested in the project of European advancement and engaged in mapping and mining different fields, they both confront in their work of the late 1890s the spectre of ‘great human passions let loose’. In ‘The Aetiology of Hysteria’ (1896), The Interpretation of Dreams (1899), and correspondence of that period, Freud lays out some of the symbols and strategies on which his campaign of mental emancipation will be grounded. Involving metaphors of archaeological discovery and the poignant permanence of ruins, Freud's writing accounts for the persistence of memory in the vanguard of personal and political struggles. Likewise, in a number of essays from the period, letters and shorter pieces such as ‘An Outpost of Progress’ (1896) as well as the ground-breaking novella Heart of Darkness (1899), Conrad too harnesses the haunting force of personal and collective memory in the creation of cautionary and compelling tales of exploitation and ruin. For both, humanity is its own agent, beset by secrets and incomplete repressions, while maintaining through the groundwork of memory a constant vigil over the prospect of past and present brutality.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kolocotroni, Dr Vassiliki
Authors: Kolocotroni, V.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:English
ISSN (Online):1756-1124
Published Online:11 January 2010

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