1st Edition

Reading Lacan’s Écrits From ‘Overture to this Collection’ to ‘Presentation on Psychical Causality’

Edited By Calum Neill, Derek Hook, Stijn Vanheule Copyright 2024
    298 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    298 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Reading Lacan's Écrits is the first extensive set of commentaries on the complete edition of Lacan's Écrits to be published in English, providing an indispensable companion piece to some of Lacan's best-known but notoriously challenging writings.

    With the contributions of some of the world's most renowned Lacanian scholars and analysts, Reading Lacan's Écrits encompasses a series of systematic, paragraph-by-paragraph commentaries that not only contextualise, explain and interrogate Lacan's arguments but also afford the reader multiple interpretive routes through the complete edition of Lacan's most labyrinthine of texts. Considering the significance of Écrits as a landmark in the history of psychoanalysis, this far-reaching and accessible guide will sustain and continue to animate critical engagement with one of the most challenging intellectual works of the twentieth century.

    These volumes act as an essential and incisive reference-text for psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists in training and in practice, as well as philosophers, cultural theorists and literary, social science and humanities researchers. This volume covers the first two sections of the Écrits, providing close readings of the first eight essays.

    Introduction to Reading Lacan's Écrits

    1. 'Overture to This Collection'

    Calum Neill, Derek Hook and Stijn Vanheule

    2. The 'Seminar on "The Purloined Letter" 

    Kareen Ror Malone and Christopher Reed Johnson

    3. 'On My Antecedents'

    Derek Hook, John Dall'Aglio, Sinan Richards, Stijn Vanheule and Benjamin Strosberg

    4. 'Beyond the "Reality Principle"' 

    David Pavón-Cuéllar

    5. 'The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience'

    Calum Neill

    6. 'Aggressiveness in Psychoanalysis'

    Calum Neill and Tom Eyers

    7. 'A Theoretical Introduction to the Functions of Psychoanalysis in Criminology' with Michel Cenac 

    Carol Owens

    8. 'Presentation on Psychical Causality'

    Mattias Desmet


    Calum Neill is Professor of Psychoanalysis and Continental Philosophy at Edinburgh Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is the author of Jacques Lacan: The Basics (2023), Ethics and Psychology (2016) and Without Ground: Lacanian Ethics and the Assumptions of Subjectivity and editor of Lacanian Perspectives on Blade Runner 2049. With Derek Hook, he edits the Palgrave Lacan Series.

    Derek Hook is Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, USA, and Professor of Psychology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He is the author of Six Moments in Lacan (2017) and A Critical Psychology of the Postcolonial (2012) and editor of Lacan on Depression and Melancholia (with Stijn Vanheule) (2022) and Lacan and Race (with Sheldon George) (2022). With Calum Neill, he edits the Palgrave Lacan Series.

    Stijn Vanheule is Professor of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, a practising psychoanalyst and a member of the New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis. He is author of Psychiatric Diagnosis Revisited (2017) and The Subject of Psychosis (2011) and editor of Lacan on Depression and Melancholia (with Derek Hook) (2022).

    'It all began with an improbable wager: ask 35 scholars to each write something intelligible about every single paragraph in one of the texts included in Jacques Lacan's magnum opus, Écrits, so as to generate a commentary on the entire 800-page volume. And yet, after years of preparation, the wager has paid off: we have here some useful and at times brilliant examples of textual explication! Cryptic formulations are lucidly unpacked, and mysterious references are provided, giving the serious reader myriad keys to fascinating texts.'

    Bruce Fink, Translator of Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English (2006)

    'Let's face it: Lacan's Écrits, one of the classical texts of modern thought is unreadable – it remains impenetrable if we just pick the thick volume up and start to read it. Hook, Neill and Vanheule provide what we were all waiting for: a detailed commentary which does not aim to replace reading Écrits, but to render it possible. The three volumes do wonder, their effect is no less than magic: when, after getting stuck at a particularly dense page of Écrits, we turn to the corresponding pages in the commentary and then return to the page of Écrits which pushed us to madness, the same lines appear in all the clarity of their line of thought. It is thus a safe prediction that Hook, Neill and Vanheule's commentary will become a kind of permanent companion of the English translation of Écrits, indispensable for everyone who wants to find her or his way in its complex texture.' 

    Slavoj Žižek, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University, Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School and Senior Researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana

    'These essays will be an invaluable resource not only for those approaching the Écrits for the first time but also for seasoned readers. Broad in scope yet following the detail of the text, they help guide us through Lacan's difficult prose, elucidating, contextualising and clarifying, and reminding us time and again of the precision, power and originality of his rethinking of psychoanalysis.'

    Darian Leader, Psychoanalyst working in London and member of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research