This issue of Sartre Studies International contains articles and book reviews covering an extraordinarily wide range of topics. The first two articles focus on Sartre’s thought in relation to psychoanalysis, and more specifically, on his conflicted relationship with the brilliant, controversial psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, Sartre’s Parisian contemporary. Blake Scott argues that despite fundamentally different conceptions of subjectivity and agency, Lacan does develop a sense of subjective responsibility that Scott engages effectively with Sartre’s later thought. Betty Cannon, replying directly to Scott (who had brought her own work into the discussion), offers from a clinical point of view a current critical assessment of the relations among Sartre, Freud, and Lacan. She also provides an invaluable update of her own work and practice in relation to Sartre’s existential psychoanalysis (her groundbreaking book, Sartre and Psychoanalysis, was published in 1991), as well as assessing the influence of his thought on many other schools of psychoanalytic thought and related therapies today.
David Detmer and John Ireland
Explorations in Psychoanalytic Ethnography
This collection of essays is about psychoanalytic ethnography. Its concern is the psychic depths of human cultural life-worlds as explored through psychoanalytic practice and/or the psychoanalytically framed ethnographic project. The authors engage various aspects of the human condition within a wide range of conceptual frameworks that are representative of contemporary psychoanalytic understanding and practice. The anthropological contributions come from scholars whose ethnographic research is grounded in psychoanalysis and whose overall approach to human existence is articulated in terms of or gravitates toward psychoanalysis as a foundational framework for anthropological understanding. A strong version of this position (not shared by all contributors) maintains that anthropological interpretation of human existence is not sustainable without psychoanalysis. Critical here is the primary level of concrete ethnographic research whose horizons are delimited by the psychoanalytic perspectives on the unconscious matrix of the human psyche and, correlatively, on the unconscious depths and dynamics of the intersubjective (social) reality of any given cultural life-world.
'New' Female Sexualities, 1870–1930
In her study of the relationship between sex, gender, and social change in Britain since 1880, Lesley Hall justifies her starting date by pointing out that ‘recent historians of the nineteenth century have perceived a definite change in sexual attitudes, and in ways of talking about and dealing with sexual issues, around 1880’. She suggests that this marks the beginnings of ‘certain ways of thinking about sex which are essentially “modern”’. This special edition, which focuses on readings of texts published from the 1870s to the late 1920s, examines these ‘modern’ ways of conceptualising sex in relation to the dangerous figure of the sexually active woman and to female sexuality in general. It takes its impetus from such recent developments in the historicizing of sexuality that have designated the fin de siècle and early twentieth century as particularly important for understanding the early formation of ‘new’ female sexual identities. At this time the new science of sexology, the development of psychoanalysis, the social purity movement, the rise of the New Woman and the proliferation of more sexually explicit texts all contributed to increased public debates about the nature of female sexuality. As Frank Mort has argued, this was a period when social purists and feminists increasingly felt compelled to ‘speak out about sex’ and ‘to confront the conspiracy of silence and shame which surrounded the subject’, a confrontation which also took place in New Woman fiction.
A conference about André Schwarz-Bart's book The Last of the Just considered it from the perspectives of literature, psychoanalysis and spirituality. This introductory article offers brief reflections from all three viewpoints. The book's structure seems problematic because of its mixture of genres. It shifts from traditional folk tales to a description of adolescent torment, to a searing account of the Nazi persecution. The article suggests that there is nonetheless an underlying literary coherence to the book. In therapeutic terms the article explores an ambiguity about whether the picture of Ernie Levy, the book's hero, as a Lamed Vav is to be taken at face value, or whether it represents the desperate attempt of a disturbed young man to shore up his internal image of himself. From a spiritual perspective, the article discusses what it can mean that this almost unbearably dark book is framed by the statement that 'God enjoys himself'. When a Just Man takes all the evil of the world into his heart, Ernie's grandfather tells him, something changes for God. What God enjoys may, in Schwarz-Bart's vision, be His own dependence on the Lamed Vav, for something that He alone cannot make happen without the existence of the Just Men whom He has created.