1st Edition

Reading Lacan’s Écrits: From ‘Signification of the Phallus’ to ‘Metaphor of the Subject’

Edited By Stijn Vanheule, Derek Hook, Calum Neill Copyright 2019
    350 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    350 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Écrits was Jacques Lacan’s single most important text, a landmark in psychoanalysis which epitomized his aim of returning to Freud via structural linguistics, philosophy and literature. Reading Lacan’s Écrits is the first extensive set of commentaries on the complete edition of Lacan’s Écrits to be published in English.

    An invaluable document in the history of psychoanalysis, and one of the most challenging intellectual works of the twentieth century, Lacan’s Écrits still today begs the interpretative engagement of clinicians, scholars, philosophers and cultural theorists. The three volumes of Reading Lacan’s Écrits offer just this: a series of systematic paragraph-by-paragraph commentaries – by some of the world’s most renowned Lacanian analysts and scholars – on the complete edition of the Écrits, inclusive of lesser known articles such as ‘Kant with Sade’, ‘The Youth of Gide’, ‘Science and Truth’, ‘Presentation on Transference’ and ‘Beyond the "Reality Principle".

    The originality and importance of Lacan’s Écrits to psychoanalysis and intellectual history is matched only by the text’s notorious inaccessibility. Reading Lacan’s Écrits is an indispensable companion piece and reference-text for clinicians and scholars exploring Lacan's magnum opus. Not only does it contextualize, explain and interrogate Lacan's arguments, it provides multiple interpretative routes through this most labyrinthine of texts.

    Reading Lacan’s Écrits provides an incisive and accessible companion for psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists in training and in practice, as well as philosophers, cultural theorists and literary, social science and humanities researchers who wish to draw upon Lacan’s pivotal work.

    Introduction to ‘Reading Lacan's Écrits’: La trahison de l'écriture - Derek Hook, Calum Neill & Stijn Vanheule

    1. The Signification of the Phallus –Todd McGowan
    2. In Memory of Ernest Jones: On His Theory of Symbolism – Filip Geerardyn and Alain Pringels
    3. On An Ex Post Facto Syllabary –Yael Goldman Baldwin
    4. Some Guiding Remarks for a Convention on Female Sexuality – Eve Watson
    5. The Youth of Gide, or the Letter and Desire – Jean-Michel Rabaté
    6. Kant with Sade – Dany Nobus
    7. The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire in the Freudian Unconscious – Fabio Vighi
    8. Position of the Unconscious – Paul Verhaeghe
    9. On Freud’s "Trieb" and the Psychoanalyst’s Desire – Theo Reeves-Evison
    10. Science and Truth – Ed Pluth
    11. Metaphor of the Subject – Stephanie Swales


    Stijn Vanheule is a psychoanalyst and Professor of Psychoanalysis and Clinical Psychology at Ghent University, Belgium. He is also a privately practicing psychoanalyst and a member of the New Lacanian School for Psychoanalysis. He is the author of The Subject of Psychosis: A Lacanian Perspective and Psychiatric Diagnosis Revisited – From DSM to Clinical Case Formulation.

    Derek Hook is Associate Professor of Psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and Professor of Psychology at the University of Pretoria. A former lecturer at the London School of Economics and at Birkbeck College, he is a psychoanalytic practitioner, and the author of Six Moments in Lacan.

    Calum Neill is Associate Professor of Psychoanalysis and Cultural Theory at Edinburgh Napier University. He is the author of Without Ground: Lacanian Ethics and the Assumption of Subjectivity, Ethics and Psychology: Beyond Codes of Practice and Jacques Lacan: The Basics.

    "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 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

    "Let’s face it: Lacan’s Écrits, one of the classical texts of modern thought are unreadable - they remain impenetrable if we just pick the thick volume up and start to read it. Vanheule, Hook and Neill 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 Vanheule, Hook and Neill'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 Zizek

    "Lacan’s teaching is notoriously hard to access and comprehend. But this is done on purpose: to understanding the psyche, the subject and its interaction with socio-political reality cannot be a piecemeal operation. One needs to take into account the paradoxical and often counterintuitive effects of unconscious mechanisms, and of the extimate operation of the real within and beyond the symbolic and the imaginary. Coupling exegesis with multi-level interpretations, the numerous texts in this volume advance a commentary, both informative and suggestive, that will immensely help readers navigate the archipelago of the Lacanian Écrits, without reducing in the least their complexity and inspirational value, without sacrificing their ability to surprise, provoke and jolt us out of our complacency."-Yannis Stavrakakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

    "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 time again of the precision, power and originality of his rethinking of psychoanalysis".-Darian Leader