King and the Adulteress a Psychoanalytic

Speziale-Bagliacca, r

Published by Duke Univ@press, 1998
ISBN 10: 0822320894 / ISBN 13: 9780822320890
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Synopsis: The King and the Adulteress brings together two essays that propose radically revisionary readings of two of the most important literary works in the Western canon, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Shakespeare’s King Lear. In offering a new understanding of a deeply sadomasochistic relationship and of an authoritarian pathology, renowned psychoanalyst Roberto Speziale-Bagliacca combines psychoanalysis with literary studies to challenge the conventional judgments of readers and the stereotyped interpretations of literary critics to these masterpieces.
Approaching the characters in Bovary and Lear from both an analytic and a critical viewpoint, Speziale-Bagliacca reinterprets many issues and events that involve archetypal figures of modern literary mythology. In fact, he reverses much of the received opinion about them. Charles Bovary, for example, far from being a victim of his wife’s neurotic restlessness or the epitome of a passive imbecile, is a masochist of the highest order who makes a decisive contribution to Emma’s miserable end. Lear, rather than a tragedy involving the sweet Cordelia, noble Kent, and the Fool as good and loyal supporters of an old king driven to madness by his overbearing evil daughters, is precisely the opposite. The sympathetic understanding of the reader should go, Speziale-Bagliacca suggests, also to Regan, Goneril, and Edmund, while the king, whose crisis is interpreted in the light of psychoanalytic findings on depression, finally becomes the true unbeloved "bastard" of the play.
Roberto Speziale-Bagliacca is a psychoanalyst and Professor of Psychotherapy at the Medical School of the University of Genoa. He is the author of On the Shoulders of Freud and many other works.

Review: In the mad scramble that is everyday life, one seldom has the time, the opportunity, or perhaps, the self-knowledge to step back and look at the whole picture--that's what hindsight is for. In retrospect we can see how decisions and events led to specific consequences, and we can speculate on how things might be now if even one choice, one action had been different. Literature is a different proposition entirely; here we have entire histories encapsulated within the acts of play, the chapters of a novel, or the lines of a poem. We can see how personality, conflict and choice all work on one or more of the characters, and if the piece is good, by the time we reach the end the resolution seems both right and inevitable.

In The King and the Adulteress, Italian psychoanalyst Roberto Speziale-Bagliacca takes two of Western culture's most enduring works, Shakespeare's King Lear and Flaubert's Madame Bovary and applies his science to their art. Certainly this makes for an interesting academic exercise--Speziale-Bagliacca speculates about Lear's insecurity and Charles and Emma's relationship--but does it add either understanding or enjoyment to our experience of these works of art? In the end, the fate of mad King Lear bellowing his rage and despair on a storm-tossed moor makes perfect psychological sense without the psychoanalysis. Still, for a different take on what made Emma Bovary or Lear tick, The King and the Adulteress might be of interest.

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Title: King and the Adulteress a Psychoanalytic
Publisher: Duke Univ@press
Publication Date: 1998
Book Condition: Good
Edition: Rev. Ed.

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Speziale-Bagliacca, r
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