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Symptomatic writings: prefigurations of Freudian theories and models of the mind in the fiction of Sheridan Le Fanu, Wilkie Collins and George Eliot

Tingle, Catherine Mary (2000) Symptomatic writings: prefigurations of Freudian theories and models of the mind in the fiction of Sheridan Le Fanu, Wilkie Collins and George Eliot. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis examines ways in which the writings of Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873), Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) and George Eliot (1819-1880) anticipate aspects of the works of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). It argues that psychoanalytic theories were a product of their time, finding their ancestry in Victorian psychological, philosophical, scientific and social thought, aspects of which also informed the work of Le Fanu, Collins and Eliot. I foreground Freud's work of the 1890s, especially his Project for a Scientific Psychology (1950; written in 1895), the forerunner of The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), The Unconscious (1915), Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) and The Ego and the Id (1923). The energy-filled psychical system the Project outlines is informed by nineteenth-century ideas on force. I discuss systemic equilibrium in Le Fanu's short stories, the tendency to inertia in Eliot's Romola (1862-3) and the mechanics of satisfaction in Middlemarch (1871-2) and Daniel Deronda (1876); all these concepts find roots in nineteenth-or pre-nineteenth-century spiritual or scientific thought, and prefigure Freud's Project. The association of ideas, a basic foundation of psychoanalysis, is discussed with reference to Collins's Basil (1852), The Woman in White (1860), No Name (1862) and Armadale (1866). I suggest how Collins's knowledge of the work of W. B. Carpenter (1813-1885) and Frances Power Cobbe (1822-1904), and Eliot's engagement with the ideas of George Henry Lewes (1817-1878) and Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) are evident in their fictions. Throughout, I show that unconscious mental processes were discussed decades before Freud.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of English (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2011 16:04
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1227

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