In this book Suzanne Gearhart argues that Hegelian speculative philosophy and Freudian psychoanalysis—and ultimately, important currents of contemporary literary theory as well—find their origins and self-justification in the particular interpretation each gives to tragedy.
Gearhart shows not only what draws philosophers and psychoanalysts to tragedy—especially to Antigone, Oedipus, and Hamlet—but also why tragedy both yields confirmation of their theoretical insights and resists their conclusions. Philosophy and psychoanalysis, she contends, entertain a “dialectic” with tragedy, yet this dialectic is “interrupted” constantly by the deeply problematic character of the model of tragedy being used to support theoretical speculation.
In addition to reassessing the relation between Kant, Hegel, and the tragic, Gearhart analyzes the process of “tragic identification” in texts such as Corneille’s Horace, Racine’s Iphigenie, Prevost’s Manon Lescaut, and Beaumarchais’s Le Mariage de Figaro. Through her readings of Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy, Freud’s theory of primary masochism, and Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau, and the work of theorists such as Lessing, Benjamin, Auerbach, and Lacoue-Labarthe, she argues for the fundamental complexity of the “subject of tragedy” and against all attempts to reconstruct the subject in terms of an aesthetic, unconscious, sexual, and cultural “identity.”
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Birth of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis
1: The Identities of Tragedy: Nietzsche, Benjamin, Freud
2: Philosophical Identification, Tragedy, and the Sublime: Hegel, Kant, and Antigone
3: The Interrupted Dialectic of Modern Tragedy: Hegel, Corneille, and the Feminine Challenge to Aufhebung
4: The Uneasy Identification of Psychoanalysis and Tragedy: Freud and Racine
5: The Sexual Interruption of the Real: Auerbach and Manon Lescaut
6: The Dialectic and Its Aesthetic Other: The Problem of Identification in Diderot and Hegel
7: The Tragic Matrix of Speculative Philosophy: Generalized Mimesis and the Paradoxe sur le comédien
8: Sexual Identification and the Social: Freud and Beaumarchais
Conclusion: Tragedy and the Problem of Culture
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