Penn State

Maria R. Truglio - associate professor of Italian, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative

Author: Peter Brooks

Book Description:

“The end is a time before the beginning.” This eloquent, insightful, and moving book is a model of psychoanalytic literary criticism. Sigmund Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which grapples with the repetition compulsion and posits the death drive beyond erotic impulses, becomes for Peter Brooks a map for narrative plotting. The reader’s desire to continue taking pleasure in the story (analogous to Eros) and her opposing desire to get to the ending (analogous to Thanatos) result from “the text itself as a system of internal energies and tensions.” Brooks offers nuanced interpretations of individual novels (such as Great Expectations and Heart of Darkness) that develop from his reading of Freud yet do not mechanically reiterate static doctrine. Through his compelling readings of fiction and of Freud, Brooks elucidates the ways in which narrative plots can become “a way of locating something, perhaps oneself.”

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