R. Gray

German 390/Comp Lit 396/Engl 363/CHID 498/JSIS 488/Lit 298

Freud and the Literary Imagination


Short Writing Assignment 3


Write on one of the following topics (from the study sheet on "Creative Writing and Day-Dreaming") in 150-200 words! Use examples from Schnitzler's Lieutenant Gustl (or other appropriate works with which you are familiar) to make your point(s) concrete.


A) Freud implies that all creative writers are driven by egotistical purposes and that the hero of the text is an alter-ego of the author's self. The corollary of this would be that all creative writing is autobiographical in nature, based upon childhood fantasies. Does the idea of wish-fulfillment enrich our understanding of creativity? Incorporating examples from Gustl (or another literary work) take a stand for or against this position.


B) What kind of case can be made for the therapeutic character of art? Freud implies that both literary creation and literary reception (the reading of texts) have a therapeutic function by helping us channel our frustrated desires into productive forms. Do you agree? What are the limitations of such a literary aesthetics? Does this maxim fit for Gustl?


C) Freud suggests that the pleasure we as readers find in literature derives from our identification with the hero. Can aesthetic pleasure be reduced to this identification function?  How do we explain works such as Gustl in which identification is problematic?