Trauma Freud: Sigmund Freud as a fictional character in D. M. Thomas's The White Hotel

Source document: Bohemica litteraria. 2013, vol. 16, iss. 2, pp. 69-81
  • ISSN
    1213-2144 (print)
    2336-4394 (online)
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The paper views the novel The White Hotel (1981) written by D. M. Thomas as a specific model of a general situation of a human in Modernism. It points at specific instances where the text of the novel itself refers to certain limitations of such a view of trauma which interprets it as an effect of a real (primal) event onto the life of an individual (i.e. as a structural trauma), while the attempt to overcome the personal horizon, so as to apply a general psychoanalytic structure of human existence (structural trauma) onto an individual trauma implies unacceptable consequences. For the purpose of "criticizing" psychoanalysis the text of the novel employs different strategies, especially an imitation of the genre and structure of a Freudian "case study" (Krankengeschichte), making Sigmund Freud one of the main characters in the novel at the same time. The second part of the paper focuses on the article concentrates on the relationship between the traumatizing event and its possible or necessary deformations caused by its later attempted linguistic account. Especially relevant in this context is the way in which Anatoly Kuznetsov used the eye witness testimonies of the Babi Yar massacre survivor, while the article stresses the strategy D. M. Thomas employed when using Kuznetsov's "documentary novel" in The White Hotel.
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