Shoshana Felman: ‘The Madness of Interpretation: Literature and Psychoanalysis’

  • K. M. Newton
Chapter

Abstract

Let us return … to Wilson’s reading [of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw]1 which will be considered here not as a model ‘Freudian reading’, but as the illustration of a prevalent tendency as well as an inherent temptation of psychoanalytical interpretation as it undertakes to provide an ‘explanation’, or an ‘explication’ of a literary text. In this regard, Wilson’s later semi-retraction of this thesis is itself instructive: convinced by his detractors that for James the ghosts were real, that James’s conscious project or intention was to write a simple ghost story and not a madness story, Wilson does not, however, give up his theory that the ghosts consist of the neurotic hallucinations of the governess, but concedes in a note:

One is led to conclude that, in The Turn of the Screw, not merely is the governess self-deceived, but that James is self-deceived about her. (Wilson, note added 1948, p. 143)

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Notes

  1. 1.
    [Ed.] See Edmund Wilson, ‘The Ambiguity of Henry James’, in The Triple Thinkers (Harmondsworth, 1962).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    [Ed.] Page references are to Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, ed. Robert Kimbrough (New York, 1966).Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    [Ed.] See Edmund Wilson, ‘The Ambiguity of Henry James’, in The Triple Thinkers (Harmondsworth, 1962).Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    [Ed.] Page references are to Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, ed. Robert Kimbrough (New York, 1966).Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • K. M. Newton

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