Freud and Fiction by Sarah Kofman

By Sarah Kofman

This paintings is an exam of 4 fictional texts on which Freud himself wrote; a fragmentary poem through Empedocles, Hebbel's "Judith and Holofernes", Jensen's "Gradiva" and E.T.A.Hoffmann's "The Sandman". In her research, Kofman is worried to think again those texts within the mild of Freud's examining of them and to spotlight what he misses out. She argues that Freud's declare to provide devoted summaries of those works conceals his personal enhancing and distortion of the texts. through interweaving her personal statement with Freud's and with the unique texts, Kofman attracts consciousness to the production of fantasy and literature, to Freud's use of the literary textual content as evidence of the analyst's conception, and to the method of literary interpretation as a revelation of the interpreter.

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Example text

If I do that , it is because I no longer know how to save myself from my thoughts. My prayer is then a plunge into God, it 71 Judith i s only anot her form o f suicide. I spring into t h e infinite as despera te men into deep water' (Act II, p. 269) . �o . The instinct ual conflict which finds express Ion In her dream and which is one of the keys to Judith' s behavio ur plays a decisive role in her weddin g night with Manass es. It manifes ts itself in the close identity she repeate dly estab­ lishes between sexualit y, death and madnes s; it is translat ed into an emotional ambiva lence: in the dream, in the scene with Manass es and when she decapit ates Holofernes, she feels joy and anxiety simult aneousl y.

Thus, by killing Holofernes, Judith takes her revenge for being nothing more than a woman, a narcissistic wound which is reopened by the first act of coitus. If Holofernes had spared her, she would never have been able to decapi­ tate him because, unlike the biblical Judith, she cannot iden­ tify with her people - they are an only too vivid reminder of her own weakness. The Hebrews are contemptible, effe­ minate; her name, Judith, in so far as it symbolizes her Judaism, hurts her (cf. Act V, p.

Freud focuses on the specificity of the taboo by lifting the repression that operates on it. 'DOlyillg or sparin,\Z precisely the future /zusbarld something' seems to be the taboo of virginity's proper function. To avoid becoming sidetracked in his turn by generalities, Freud immediately excludes the use of a generic method which would trace the specific taboo of virginity back to the origin of taboo observances in general . The search for an origin would condemn his investigation to failure: the 'prinlitive', the 'originary' do not exist; they are always already covered over by subsequent layers of signification.

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