The Uncanny: Freud, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Edgar Allan Poe
Freud’s paper ‘The Uncanny’1 is the best essay on the subject. It was written in 1919, when he was also working on Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and it shares with that work a new breadth of vision. Previously Freud’s ingenuity had been directed to the task of explaining what pleasure was to be gained, or what pain avoided, from behaviour that appeared to have no motive, or that disguised its motive. In addition, his task was to show that however bizarre the behaviour, pleasure was pursued (or pain avoided) in the most economical manner possible, given the divisions and tensions within the mind. Now, in acknowledging the repetition compulsion, Freud identified a principle of mental functioning which defied the pleasure principle.
KeywordsIncome Coherence Assure Smoke Ghost
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- 3.Freud’s essays on Dostoevsky and Leonardo are examples of this approach, and those who have followed in his footsteps have fared even worse, e.g., K.R. Eissler, Leonardo da Vinci: Psychoanalytic Notes on the Enigma (London: Hogarth Press, 1962)Google Scholar
- 3.and Humberto Nagera, Vincent Van Gogh (London: Allen & Unwin, 1967).Google Scholar
- 7.Marie Bonaparte, The Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe, A Psycho-Analytic Interpretation (John Rodker, trans.), (London: Imago, 1949).Google Scholar