Myth, Literature, and the Unconscious (Karnac, 2013)

MLU_CoverMyth, Literature, and the Unconscious, edited by Leon Burnett, Sanja Bahun, and Roderick Main (Karnac, 2013)

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At a time when the place and significance of myth in society has come under renewed scrutiny, Myth, Literature, and the Unconscious contributes to shaping the new interdisciplinary field of myth studies. The editors find in psychoanalysis a natural and necessary ally for investigations in myth and myth-informed literature and the arts. At the same time the collection re-values myths and myth-based cultural products as vital aids to the discipline and practice of psychoanalysis. The volume spans a vast geo-cultural range (including ancient Egypt, India, Japan, nineteenth-century France, and twentieth-century Germany) and investigates cultural products from the Mahabharata to J. W. Goethe’s opus and eighteenth-century Japanese fiction, and from William Blake’s visionary poetry to contemporary blockbuster television series. It encompasses mythic topics and figures such as Oedipus, Orpheus, the Scapegoat, and the Hero, while mobilising Freudian, Jungian, object relations, and Lacanian psychoanalytic approaches. Bringing together an international array of both leading and emerging researchers, Myth, Literature, and the Unconscious provides an exceptionally rich overview of the concerns and exciting possibilities of this new interdisciplinary field while simultaneously contributing to scholarship on the literary texts and psychoanalytic concepts it evokes.


Introduction – Leon Burnett

Part I: Myth in the Modern World

  • 1. Apocalypse, Transformation, and Scapegoating: Moving myth into the twenty-first century – Steven F. Walker
  • 2. The Divine Image: Remaking Blake’s myths – Jason Whittaker

Part II: Oedipus Reconsidered

  • 3. The Yayāti Complex: A contra-oedipal take on myth and the unconscious – Saugata Bhaduri
  • 4. The Slaughter of Isaac: Oedipal themes in the Akedah narrative revisited – Paul Cantz
  • 5. From Oedipus to Ahab (and Back): Myth and psychoanalysis in science fiction – Angie Voela

Part III: Theorising Myth and the Unconscious

  • 6. Freudian and Jungian Approaches to Myth: The similarities – Robert A. Segal
  • 7. The Boy Who Had Dreams in His Mouth – Eric Rhode
  • 8. Myth, Synchronicity, and Re-enchantment – Roderick Main

Part IV: Readings in Myth and the Imaginary

  • 9. The Confrontation with the Anima in Akinari Ueda’s Story “Jasei No In” (“A Serpent’s Lust”, 1776) – Janet A. Walker
  • 10. Sorrow and Surprise: A reading of Théophile Gautier’s sphinx complex – Leon Burnett

Part V: Orpheus and Literature

  • 11. From the Archaic into the Aesthetic: Myth and literature in the “Orphic” Goethe – Paul Bishop
  • 12. Orpheus, Eurydice, Blanchot: Some thoughts on the nature of myth and literature – Lyndon Davies