Tragic Drama and the Family

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Psychoanalytic Studies from Aeschylus to Beckett

Bennett Simon

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One of the most important characteristics of tragic drama—as of psychoanalysis— is the focus on the family. Dr. Bennett Simon here provides a psychoanalytic reading of Aeschylus' Oresteia, Euripedes' Medea, Shakespeare's King Lear and Macbeth, O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, and Beckett's Endgame, six plays from ancient to modern times which involve a particular form of intrafamily warfare: the killing of children or of the possibility of children.

"Tragic Drama and the Family is everywhere generous and humane in its reflections on a subject of immense relevance to our clinical undertakings and, in a larger sense, to our participation in culture."—International Review of Psycho-Analysis

"A clinician-scholar-a good doctor at once of healing and of learning-richly continues the generous conversation begun in Freud between the ancient genre of tragedy and the modern generations of psychoanalysis. The openness of Bennett Simon's love of his material is the reward of his capacity for responding to the suffering that produces it."—Stanley Cavell

 

Bennett Simon's current book Tragic Drama and the Family is a towering achievement of applied psychoanalysis. But, then, this should come as no surprise; for Simon has been in the vanguard of this present stage of applied psychoanalysis for quite a long time. . . . Tragic Drama and the Family is a further report of the cultural research of one of our most tireless and fertile psychoanalytic minds. . . . [The book's] argument about an important genre of western literature is so well taken and so clearly demonstrated that it is one of those books one does not forget. . . . Tragic Drama and the Family is everywhere generous and humane in its reflections on a subject of immense relevance to our clinical undertakings and, in a larger sense, to our participation in culture."—Donald M. Kaplan, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

 

 

 

"The great merit of this book may lie as much with the acuity of perception of Simon as a generous reader and critic as with his specifically psychoanalytic contributions. . . . The prose is lucid, and the author is always intelligent, original, clear, and therefore interesting. It is one of Simon's great strengths that one senses his own presence in the book—nothing ex cathedra here—and we feel the intensity of his involvement with his topic of tragedy and its power over us. This volume is a high-water mark in applied analysis today. I strongly recommend the book for study by students of this area of literature and psychoanalysis, and for browsing by anyone interested in psychoanalysis and the humanities. Simon enlightens, excites, and invites us to think about important matters; there is no higher praise."—Arnold M. Cooper, Psychoanalytic Quarterly

 

Bennett Simon's current book Tragic Drama and the Family is a towering achievement of applied psychoanalysis. But, then, this should come as no surprise; for Simon has been in the vanguard of this present stage of applied psychoanalysis for quite a long time. . . . Tragic Drama and the Family is a further report of the cultural research of one of our most tireless and fertile psychoanalytic minds. . . . [The book's] argument about an important genre of western literature is so well taken and so clearly demonstrated that it is one of those books one does not forget. . . . Tragic Drama and the Family is everywhere generous and humane in its reflections on a subject of immense relevance to our clinical undertakings and, in a larger sense, to our participation in culture."—Donald M. Kaplan, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

 

"The book demands attention and constant interaction with Simon's challenging ideas. . . . A valuable contribution to the continuing dialogue between the dramatists and the psychoanalysts."—Nancy M. Tischler, Comparative  Drama

 

"A learned and insightful exploration of some important constituents of tragic drama."—Lillian Feder, Contemporary Psychology

"A rare and wonderful book, loving, wise, and deeply informed. It is interdisciplinary in all appropriate ways and will be very helpful to experts and non-experts alike."—Paul Schwaber, Wesleyan University and Western New England Psychoanalytic Institute

 

"This is a splendid book. Bennett Simon combines the experience and insights of psychoanalysis with the detailed knowledge of the texts in the original language. His readings of Aeschylus' Oresteia and Euripides' Medea are among the most compelling of recent years and make these works meaningful to the modern reader in fresh and important ways."—Charles Segal, Princeton University

 

"Dr. Simon's bibliography is breathtaking; his references and quotations range widely and are usually pithy. He is capable of subtlety but also of firm and blunt judgments (e.g., 'Helen and Clytemnestra are killers and monsters'). He comments here and there on many tragedies and on tragedy in general; on Homer, Aristotle, Nietzsche, the birth of tragedy, and many literary critics, including very recent ones; and on the theories about tragedy of Freud, Kohut, and Erikson. He urges us to allow his psychoanalytic family-oriented formulations to become 'figures,' with others that we will have accumulated as 'ground,' for long enough to apprehend the implications of his analysis of tragedy and the family. At that task, I think, he richly succeeds."—Lawrence Hartmann, M.D., American Journal of Psychiatry

 

"Simon's book offers provocative ideas to the general reader."—Erich Segal, The Times (London)

 

 

 

ISBN: 9780300058055
Publication Date: July 28, 1993
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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