Josh Cohen

Unreliable Narrators

The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy


Harvill Secker 198pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

From the outset of his psychoanalytic project, Freud was aware of having been preceded by literature. The poets and philosophers, he would often say, had shown the unconscious at work long before he made it an object of scientific curiosity. And in many ways literature was and is more intimate with the unconscious than psychoanalysis, closer to its obscure, ambiguous modes of thinking and expression than any theoretical system could hope to be.

With Oedipus and Narcissus, Freud places myth and literature at the centre of his conceptual edifice, while literary figures such as Hoffmann, Dostoevsky and Goethe remain perpetual interlocutors throughout his corpus. And literature and art have repaid the compliment, whether by explicitly mobilising the unconscious for artistic practice (surrealism) or by tacitly insinuating the motifs and mechanisms of a Freudian psychology into the representation of human motives and behaviour (modernist and realist fiction alike).

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,
    • RT : First founded in Edinburgh in 1979, is considered a trusted independent source for reviews of new book… ,
    • 'In different ways Hatherley makes gritty Lódź and poor old which-country-are-we-in-this-week Lviv sound entrancing… ,
    • In this issue Lucy Popescu discusses the miscarriages of justice occurring in the investigation over Maltese journa… ,
    • 'Rodin’s fascination with ancient Greek sculpture is part of a long and distinguished French tradition.' A review o… ,
    • The New Testament, in a new translation by David Bentley Hart, reviewed by Salley Vickers ,