Through an exhilarating series of encounters with – and vivid readings of – writers he has loved, from Byron and Barthes to Shakespeare and Sebald, Phillips infuses the love of writing with deep insights drawn from his work as a practicing psychoanalyst to demonstrate, in his own unique style, how literature and psychoanalysis can speak to and of each other.
For Adam Phillips – as for Freud and many of his followers – poetry and poets have always held an essential place, as both precursors and unofficial collaborators in the psychoanalytic project. But the same has never held true in reverse. What, Phillips wonders, at the start of this deeply engaging book, has psychoanalysis meant for writers? And what can writing do for psychoanalysis?
He discusses how literature and psychoanalysis can speak to and of each other with psychoanalyst and writer, Josh Cohen.
‘Reading Phillips, you may be amused, vexed, dazzled. But the one thing you will never be is bored.’
‘It is a pleasure simply to hear him think.’
Adam Phillips is a practising psychoanalyst and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books, the Observer and the New York Times, and he is General Editor of the Penguin Modern Classics Freud translations. His most recent book is In Writing and he recently curated an exhibition, The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined, at the Barbican, London.
Josh Cohen is a psychoanalyst in private practice and Professor of Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University of London. He is the author of four books and numerous articles on psychoanalysis, modern literature and cultural theory, including How to Read Freud and, most recently, The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark. He is currently completing a book on inertia on psychic and cultural life, provisionally titled Not Working.