ABSTRACT

In the field of literature Hanna Segal is the main Kleinian contributor. Her early paper ‘A psycho-analytical approach to aesthetics’ (1952) is a notable exploration of artistic creativity in relation to the depressive position, a theme which she continued to explore in ‘Delusion and artistic creativity’ (1974, reprinted here), in ‘Psychoanalysis and freedom of thought’ (1977b), and in ‘Joseph Conrad and the mid-life crisis’ (1984). Indeed, interest in the relation between the depressive position and creativity informs much of her work, especially that on symbolism. (See especially ‘Notes on symbol formation’, 1957, reprinted in Volume 1.) Elliott Jaques’ paper ‘Death and the mid-life crisis’ (1965, reprinted here) is also focused on the depressive position, especially on the reworking of it in the middle phase of life and the role of this reworking in creativity. Apart from Segal and Jaques, however, the post-Klein generation has been much less active in applying the ideas of Kleinian analysis to literature and creativity. There are two recent exceptions: Arthur Hyatt Williams (1986) has examined Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner in the light of Klein’s views on the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions and John Steiner (1985) discusses Sophocles’ drama Oedipus Rex psychoanalytically, not so much, however, to show the relevance of Kleinian theory to Sophocles’ work of art but more to show the relevance of the work of art to psychoanalysis.