Lacan's Return to Antiquity: Between nature and the gods
Lacan’s Return to Antiquity is the first book devoted to the role of classical antiquity in Lacan’s work. Oliver Harris poses a question familiar from studies of Freud: what are Ancient Greece and Rome doing in a twentieth-century theory of psychology? In Lacan’s case, the issue has an additional edge, for he employs antiquity to demonstrate what is radically new about psychoanalysis. It is a tool with which to convey the revolutionary power of Freud’s ideas by digging down to the philosophical questions beneath them. It is through these questions that Lacan allies psychoanalysis with the pioneering intellectual developments of his time in anthropology, philosophy, art and literature.
Lacan’s Return to Antiquity brings to Lacan studies the close reading and cross-disciplinary research that has proved fruitful in understanding Freud’s invention of psychoanalysis. It will appeal to psychoanalysts and advanced students studying in the field, being of particular value to those interested in the roots of Lacanian concepts, the evolution of his thought, and the cultural context of his work. What emerges is a more nuanced, self-critical figure, a corrective to the reputation for dogmatism and obscurity that Lacan has attracted. In the process, new light is thrown on enduring controversies, from Lacan’s pronouncements on feminine sexuality to the opaque drama of the seminars themselves.