Seductions & Enigmas

Laplanche, Theory, Culture



ISBN: 9781909831087 Categories: ,

Format: Paperback

Publication date: July 1, 2014

Page extent: 256

6 in stock

This collection, which includes newly translated works by Jean Laplanche himself, brings together essays that illuminate Laplanche’s unique interpretative methodology.

French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche (1924–2012) elaborated a distinctive methodology for the reading of Freud’s corpus and at the same time evolved a radical new metapsychology – one that critically recast Freud’s early ‘seduction’ theory of trauma and placed at the heart of psychic life a particular model of ‘enigmatic signification’.

Contributors to this volume elaborate Laplanche’s unique method for the interpretation of Freud, and its attention to the decentering and recentering movements of thought that structure the psychoanalytic field. They explore how the metapsychological developments arising from the implementation of that method open up new horizons for the psychoanalytic reading of other texts and oeuvres in the cultural domain.

Some essays develop and discuss Laplanche’s critical methodology; others work through aspects of his major theoretical innovations as points of departure for the reading of cultural works: fiction, drama, painting, visual and sound installations, and film.

Introduction: Seductions and Enigmas: Laplanche, Reading, Theory – John Fletcher and Nicholas Ray

Reading and Interpretation: Laplanche and the Case of Freud
Interpreting (with) Freud – Jean Laplanche
Exigency and Going-Astray – Jean Laplanche
Sublimation and/or Inspiration – Jean Laplanche

Seduction, Sexuality, Gender
Primal Femininity – Jacques André
Seduction, Gender and the Drive – Judith Butler – FREE CHAPTER

Seductions, Enigmas, Literary Texts
Culture, Cognition and Jean Laplanche’s Enigmatic Signifier – Allyson Stack
Gothic’s Enigmatic Signifier: the Case of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla – Mike Davis
The Ides of March: from Mastery to Vampirism – Éric Toubiana
The Scenography of Trauma: a ‘Copernican’ reading of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King – John Fletcher

Seduction and Infraction in the Visual and Aural Fields
Breast-Feeding as Original Seduction and Primal Scene of Seduction: Giorgione’s La Tempesta – Jacqueline Lanouzière
Femininity and Passivity in the Primal Scene: the Little Death of Sardanapalus – Jacques André
Seduction, Receptivity and the ‘Feminine’ in Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book – Nicholas Ray
Bruce Nauman, Jean Laplanche and the Art of Helplessness – Josh Cohen

‘This collection of important papers advances the vital project of bringing Laplanche’s originality to the attention of Anglophone readers. What Laplanche offers to both clinicians and cultural critics is an account of interpretation that locates alterity and constitutive opacity at the heart of human relations. Happily this book is not opaque but admirably lucid in its exposition of key concepts and their potential for illuminating a range of aesthetic forms and cultural formations. Seductions and Enigmas is an extremely useful book.’

Tim Dean, Director of the Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture, SUNY-Buffalo


‘This superb collection will be essential reading on Jean Laplanche, both for his analysis of Freud on interpretation, and for Laplanche’s centrally important idea of seduction as “the other in me”. New insights emerge in the exploration of its significance for understanding sexuality and gender, and for our experience of cultural works and their impact as “enigmatic messages”.’

Elizabeth Cowie, Professor of Film Studies University of Kent

‘Fletcher and Ray’s introduction to Seductions and Enigmas provides an overview of the relevant aspects of Laplanche’s work which is both accessible and useful.’

– Stella Sandford, Radical Philosophy


‘In producing this book-part homage to Jean Laplanche after his death, part attempt to widen the field of Laplanche studies-John Fletcher and Nicholas Ray continue to be part of an ongoing process of translation and dissemination of Laplanche’s texts in the English-speak­ing world. Long may we be led astray.’

– Robert Weiss, Sitegeist


‘It is […] impressive to see how Laplanche’s influence is now pervasive enough for his ideas to be ‘applied’ concretely as an interpretive, illuminating tool. Seductions and Enigmas is an important collection that serves the dual purpose of introducing Laplanche and some of his key ideas to a readership interested in their applicability outside the clinic and outside the specific domain of psychoanalytic theory itself.’

Stephen Frosh, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society Vol. 21, No. 3


Seductions & Enigmas provides an excellent introduction to Laplanchian theory by including translations of three of his major papers and a comprehensive review. It supplements an earlier study of sexuality in Ferenczi, Freud, and Laplanche by Van Haute and Geyskens (2004) by showing applications of the theory to the arts and humanities.’

– Lewis Kirshner, American Imago Vol. 74, No. 2