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The Faces of Depression in Literature

Edited By Josefa Ros Velasco

The Faces of Depression in Literature brings together some of the best-known specialists and scholars on the topic of depression in literature worldwide to offer a multidisciplinary approach concerning the philosophical, theological, and literary narratives of depression over time and their approximations to the current, clinical understanding of Major Depressive Disorder. The authors clarify the background of depression by paying attention to its representation through these narratives and revalue them as a means of acquiring knowledge in an interdisciplinary way. This pioneering initiative fills the knowledge gap that still exists concerning the nature of depression from a multidisciplinary perspective that takes into account some cross-cutting narratives. The authors give voice to the forgotten manifestations of depression found in literature, philosophy, theology, and even early medical works. The Faces of Depression in Literature is for graduates and researchers on depression from a cultural and social point of view, including philosophers, historians, cultural theorists, literature and art experts and enthusiasts, as well as artists and writers themselves, specialists in mental health and cognitive psychology, and anyone interested in a better understanding of the human condition.
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10 Inner Voices: Literary Realism and Psychoanalysis (Josie Billington (University of Liverpool))


10 Inner Voices: Literary Realism and Psychoanalysis

Josie Billington

University of Liverpool

The synergy of Freudian psychoanalytic thinking and modernist experimentation is well-documented (Abel 1989; Stonebridge 1998; Ffytche 2010; Spitzer 2014). So, too, is the relation of the formation of psychology as a discipline to the orientation of certain 19th-century literary (poetic and fictional) cultural forms or modes (Block 1982; Faas 1988; Taylor 1997; Rylance 2000; Tate 2012) and to the development of particular novelists (Shuttleworth 1996), one of which, George Eliot, is the focus of this chapter (Shuttleworth 1984; Davis 2006). However, the realist novel and the development of psychoanalysis are usually regarded as two historically distinct and consecutive responses to the loss of religious explanations for mental suffering (Lucáks 1971), rather than intrinsically connected (Matus 2010; Ryan 2012).

I argue that the realist novel and psychoanalytic theory and practice, as propounded by Freud and thence developed by Wilfred Bion in particular, might be regarded as analogous projects, connected mainly via the realist novel’s employment of free indirect discourse. I concentrate on George Eliot for these purposes for three chief reasons: first, as the virtual founder of the literary realist tradition, her use of free indirect discourse is technically virtuoso and thus its relation to psychoanalytic practice is at its most visible; second, the relation of George Eliot’s role as writer to that of healer or therapist has been adumbrated by scholars from a range of disciplines, a...

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