Q: "For Freud, a literary work is analogous to its author's dream." Referring closely to his essay "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming," discuss Freud's conception of literature.
" A literary Text is to a critic what a dream is to a therapists. Both reveal volumes" Dr. Clarke, 2005
Although Freud was not in any way a deliberate aesthetic theorist, he did leave his mark on both literature and critical theory through his general psychoanalytic framework and also his specific turning to art to show that the range of applicability of psychoanalysis extended beyond dreams and neurosis to even the highest cultural achievements. In his essay Creative Writers and Day-dreaming, Sigmund Freud's focus is on the relationship of author and his work, and he seeks to answer that question - which peaks curiosity in the reader of any literary piece "from what sources that strange being, the creative writer draws his material, and how he manages to make such an impression on us with it and to arouse in us emotions of which perhaps we had not even thought ourselves capable? (Adams p.712) With a closer analysis of this work, this essay seeks to discuss Freud's notion of the author, his work and his dreams as it relates to Literature. To begin to understand this odd relation of literature to its authors, we may recall its analogy, noted by Sigmund Freud, to the relation between dreams and dreamers. Just as dreams often convey meaning and information to the dreamer in puzzling symbolic images, literature may be said to function in a similar way. The author of a literary text can be compared to a dreamer transcribing his dreams into written language. From the Freudian point of view, the author uses literature as a medium, and this medium can be considered a sort of censor, a true meaning of a work hidden behind the manifest "dream". Just as a dreamer is often unaware of the meaning of his/her own dreams, writers too cannot always explain what it is that their writings mean. The writing of literature is many times an almost unconscious performance, which allows for the half veiled expression of ideas and concepts that transcend the conscious mental life or avowed intentions of authors. Dealing frequently with highly charged, emotionally loaded, dangerous, or threatening ideas and desires, dreams and literary texts constitute ways of giving 'safe' (i.e. unclear, ambiguous, and concealed) and also powerful and influential expression to materials which, for a variety of reasons, cannot or should not be fully brought into consciousness or verbal expression. Therefore, the opinions and ideas of an author about his/her own work are not necessarily the most reliable guides toward a meaningful interpretation of a text. Like a psychoanalyst and his patient, an intelligent and attentive reader may be able to understand a text better than the very person who wrote it.
Freud was admittedly generous in attributing to the artist the role of precursor of psychoanalysis in his or her insights into the unconscious, be it in prefiguring the significance of dreams, fetishism, repression and childhood eroticism, Para praxes, the object choice in love, the uncanny, the roles of Eros, daydreams, or almost anything else. Artists' sensitive perception of the hidden indicates that in their knowledge of the human mind "they are far in advance of us everyday people, for they draw upon sources which we have not yet opened up for science." It is in this vein that Freud pursues his findings in his essay, which highlights at several areas, as it relates to the author and his work. The first of these draws the analogy between the activity of poetic creation and the world of play and fantasy indulged in by children. Indeed Freud states, "the creative writer does the same as a child at play. He creates a world of fantasy which he takes very seriously that is, which he invests with large amounts of emotion while separating it sharply from reality." (712)...
Cited: Adam, Hazard. Critical Theory Since Plato. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1992
Freud, Sigmund. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 19 July 1999.
Groden, Michael et al. "Sigmund Freud". The John Hopkins to Literary Theory and Criticism. John Hopkins University Press. 1997
Pearson, Ethel Spector. On Freud 's "Creative Writers and Day-dreaming".
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