I have just reached the age of 34, life’s midpoint. “” So commences Frenchman Michel Leiris’ odd-ball autobiography, an elegant example of existential. A review, and links to other information about and reviews of Manhood by Michel Leiris. “Not only one of the frankest of autobiographies, but also a brilliantly written book, Leiris’ Manhood mingles memories, philosophic reflections, sexual revelation.

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We know that the interpretation of symbols played an important role in the beginnings of psychoanalysis, particularly in the first half of the 20th century.

For the therapist, it helped both to overcome mental blocks and to explain Oedipal fantasies to the patient. But psychoanalysts soon extended this practice to interpreting symbols in myths, religions, and literary texts.

The Holofernes Complex: a new edition of Michel Leiris’ ‘Manhood’ – History of The Human Sciences

The latter is often translated into English as Ghostly Africabut will be soon published for the first time as Phantom Africa in a new translation by Brent Mahood Edwards. While Leiris was at the very beginning of his scientific career in the s, it is obvious that he drew on two disciplinary genres in order to breathe new life into confessional writing: Eight chapters tell the story of his childhood and adolescence until the age of reason: Nevertheless, the text is not structured as a family drama in manhiod strict sense; instead, the plot is organized around a painting by Cranach that represents two biblical figures: Judith and Lucretia Cranach, 16 th century.


Leiris saw in this diptych a kind of manyood of his obsessions: This infantile fear represents a certain renunciation of the maternal object, but also an irreversible loss: Yet one of the most interesting aspects of this new edition is precisely that it draws attention to the biblical personage with whom Leiris identifies: From a historical point of view, we know that the interpretation of symbols played an important role in the beginnings mannood psychoanalysis, particularly in the first half of the 20 th century.

But psychoanalysts soon extended this practice to interpreting symbols in myths, religions, and literary texts; Freud himself based his analysis of infantile sexuality on Greek mythology and published an essay on the biblical figure of Moses.

leirks Hollier also presents a previously unpublished letter written by Leiris to his wife, dated May 30 th These materials make a convincing argument that Leiris identified himself with a mythological character. It is unfortunate, however, that the editors chose not to present more context about the appropriation of psychoanalysis by writers of this generation, and that they even forgot to list Borel in their index.

Laureand Boris Souvarine, all of whom were in therapy with Borel. Moreover, Borel was not only a confidant of but also an intermediary between the members of this group, as their correspondence demonstrates. Leiiris example, inBaron revealed to Leiris that he too had taken the initiative of asking for help: I have all of hell in my head.


This intellectual social scene, enthusiastic about psychoanalysis, also had an impact on academic psychology. Bataille would repeat the gesture in consulting Borel with regard to the posthumous edition ldiris Peignot — and that is not all: While it may be argued that this information is well-known, unfortunately the existing historiography on the crossed histories of psychoanalysis, psychology, and early 20 th century avant-gardes reveals that the collaborations between the literary world and academic psychology are relatively unknown.


One leris his major interests is the history of psychiatry: His work in intellectual history focuses on epistolary material, above all, letters between scientists involved in scholarly networks. HHS Contributor February 24, University of Chicago Press. University of Chicago Press, We know that he suffered from depression after the War, but we must be wary of retrospective diagnoses.