Romantic Psyche and Psychoanalysis
Attached to Reading: Mary Shelley's Psychical Reality
Julie Carlson, University of California, Santa Barbara
1. I thank Joel Faflak for inviting me to be a part of this volume. I also thank Richard Caldwell, Lionel Corbett, Aranye Fradenburg, and Elisabeth Weber for providing helpful resources and commentary.
2. Though characterized as classic as well as romantic, Goethe remains the strongest German literary influence on Freud's thinking. For the fullest account of Goethe and Freud, see Rickels, Aberrations.
3. In pointing this out, The Language of Psychoanalysis differentiates Phantasie from Einbildungskraft in ways useful for understanding Shelley and her difference from other English romantic writers: "less in the philosophical sense of the faculty of imagining (Einbildungskraft) than in the sense of the world of the imagination, its contents and the creative activity which animates it" (Laplanche and Pontalis 314). Owing to Freud's illness, Anna Freud delivered the acceptance speech in his absence. On the Goethe prize, see Mahony 1-4.
4. For a general treatment, see Wollheim. For romantic connections on poetic minds, see McDayter. For an account of English romanticism's pre-theoretical invention of psychoanalysis, see Faflak. For a psychoanalytic account of romantic theories and practices of reading, see Jacobus, Psychoanalysis and the Scene of Reading.
8. The term appears first in the ur-text to Matilda, The Fields of Fancy (365) by way of connecting Mathilda to Proserpine, and later in Matilda (19). On the term and topic, see Graham Allen and Carlson 152-60.
9. For the importance of object-relations theory to the analysis of reading, the book-object, and learning, see Jacobus, Psychoanalysis and the Scene of Reading 1-51 and The Poetics of Psychoanalysis, and Britzman.
10. Kolarov's specific argument depends on not positing Freud's relation to Goethe (or Shakespeare) as transferential but instead as transmitting a core of their corpus that is not available to Oedipal dynamics.
17. Here I emphasize reception history since, as Rickels argues in the case of Frankenstein (The Vampire Lectures 287-300) and Jacobus in the case of Matilda (Psychoanalysis 172-77), both of these texts are marked by a refusal to mourn the mother.
21. It is as if Shelley here addresses to the phantasies inspired by literature the question that Freud applies to dreams: "must one assume responsibility for the content of one's dreams?" Her answer is similar to Freud's: "I shall perhaps learn that what I am disavowing not only 'is' in me but sometimes 'acts' from out of me as well" ("Moral Responsibility" 132, 133).
26. Percy Shelley ascribes to imagination "the delineating of human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield," which even the "most humble novelist" can enlist.
27. On extimacy in relation to the Thing, see Lacan, Seminar 139. On how books constitute their reality—that is, the techniques by which their objects are perceived as palpable and life-like—see Scarry, esp. 3-74.
29. Interestingly, this is another "psycho-analytic" insight that Freud ascribes to Goethe: his familiarity with "the incomparable strength of the first affective ties of human creatures" ("Address" 209).
30. "Creative Writers" 143. Philip Rieff's translation of the title, "Dichter und Phantasieren," as "The Relation of the Poet to Day-Dreaming" is more accurate (Dichter rarely being translated as "creative writer"), but the breadth implicit in Strachey's choice suits the scope of Freud's essay, which focuses on novels and considers the "less pretentious authors of novels, romances, and short stories" largely because they "have the widest and most eager circle of readers of both sexes" (149). The distinction he makes, between writers who, "like the ancient authors of epics and tragedies," take over their material ready-made from writers who "seem to originate their own material," indicates another way that the example of Shelley complicates such distinctions.
33. In his introduction to "Delusions and Dreams in Jensen's Gradiva" Strachey notes how Freud's studies of literature during 1906-7, especially "Delusions" and "Creative Writers," are connected to efforts to "please Jung" (4).
34. I deal with this claim in England's First Family of Writers, but would instance here the following legends from their biographies: Godwin's letters during Shelley's overwhelming grief at the death of William in which he instructs her to stop grieving or lose the love of those around her; the lines in Memoirs of the Author of "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" where Godwin reports that Wollstonecraft on her death-bed had "nothing to communicate" about the care of her two daughters; or the many references in the press after 1805 that Godwin's writings fall "dead-born" from the press.
35. The best example of the first is the character Fanny Derham in Lodore (the one satisfied by a life of reading who does not aim after marriage); of the second, virtually all of the novels that deal with female character in a "feminist" fashion (Valperga, Adventures of Perkin Warbeck, Lodore, and Falkner).
38. See esp. Godwin's "Of History and Romance" (1797), which privileges the romance-writer above the historian on the grounds that "nothing is more uncertain, more contradictory, more unsatisfactory than the evidence of facts" (297) and Wollstonecraft's fragmentary "The Cave of Fancy: A Tale" (1787; pub. 1798) that, in linking female education to fancy, story, and better object choices, sets the novelistic agenda to follow.
39. The book as mentor equation is clearest at the end of Wollstonecraft's Original Stories from Real Life where Mrs. Mason presents her charges with a book of their prior experiences as a means of future counsel, but is thematized also in Mary, in Godwin's Fleetwood and Deloraine. History as necromancy is avowed in the Preface to Life of Chaucer (1803) and enacted in Essays on Sepulchres (1809).
40. Many of these critiques are readily visible in the collection of contemporary responses to their life/writings in Lives of the Great Romantics III: Godwin, Wollstonecraft, and Mary Shelley By Their Contemporaries (Vol. 1 Godwin, ed. Pamela Clemit; vol. 2 Wollstonecraft, ed. Harriet Jump; vol. 3 Shelley, ed. Betty T. Bennet).
42. Several aspects of Britzman's "psychoanalytic studies of learning and not learning," the subtitle to Novel Education, resonate with the life/writings of Shelley: recognition of how "cathetic loyalty" impedes rational or psycho-analysis (14); the fact that the "novel" aspect in psychoanalytic discourse is that it "allows for and welcomes its own incoherence for what it does not know, namely its own means of representation" (20); the definition (de Certeau's) of fiction as a "knowledge jeopardized and wounded by its otherness (the affect)" (210); the role of fancy and phantasy in a "pedagogical fact" (158-60).
43. See especially the footnote in Godwin's Essay on Sepulchres that makes an analogy between "progress" in the world and in school by way of explaining his assertion that "the world forever is, and in some degree for ever must be, in its infancy" (14n10).
44. At the end of Memoirs, Godwin specifies as what "I have for ever lost" through the untimely death of Wollstonecraft the redesigning of his mind that was in a preliminary stage through his daily proximity to the intellectual tact that characterized her mind. "This light was lent to me for a very short period, and is now extinguished for ever" (141).