In this provocative new book, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl illuminates the psychological and intellectual demands writing biography makes on the biographer and explores the complex and frequently conflicted relationship between feminism and psychoanalysis.
A practicing psychoanalyst, a distinguished scholar, and the widely praised biographer of Anna Freud and Hannah Arendt, Young-Bruehl here reflects on the relations between self-knowledge, autobiography, biography, and cultural history. She considers what remains valuable in Sigmund Freud's work, and what areas--theory of character, for instance--must be rethought to be useful for current psychoanalytic work, for feminist studies, and for social theory.
Psychoanalytic theory used for biography, she argues, can yield insights for psychoanalysis itself, particularly in the understanding of creativity. Subject to Biography offers not simply the products of an astute mind, but an entrée into the thinking process; it welcomes the reader into the writer's workshop.
A fascinating and challenging series of essays… They range from theoretical speculations on the art of psychobiography and the history of the troubled relationship between feminism and psychoanalysis to personal reflections on [Young-Breuhl’s] empathetic connection to her chosen biographical subjects.
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl demonstrates how psychobiography illuminates the complex relations between the conditions of people’s lives and who they become, explores the processes that mediate between the outer and inner worlds, and makes clear that the latter is no simple product of the former… Those recognising the importance of reflexivity in research can learn a lot from these essays. As knowledge producers, we can learn too about tolerating ambiguity and paradox, resisting the seduction of certainty.
In these engrossing reflections, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl expands our vision of the work of the past as well as of the work that is to come. Wide-ranging and insightful, Subject to Biography is also a pleasure to read.
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl…reveals, with precision and candor, how she has brought her philosophical and psychoanalytic knowledge to the biographical task…she writes with unfailing awareness of the need to make herself intelligible and agreeable to the informed public.
A mature, thoughtful, and scholarly work, reflecting and embodying the experience of sustained research. With a distinctive voice and an equally distinctive capacity to take that one extra mental, reflexive step that deepens the material being presented, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl gives us complex, multidimensional perspectives on biography, psychoanalysis and feminism. It is a genuine pleasure to read her.
- 288 pages
- 5-11/16 x 8-15/16 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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