Literary Approach - Freudian Criticism

The Norton Introduction to Poetry
Editor: J. Paul Hunter, University of Chicago
(Norton & Company, 1999)

The Norton Introduction to Poetry: Freudian Criticism

University of Chicago professor emeritus J. Paul Hunter defines critical approaches to evaluating poetry and prose in this excellent text published by Norton & Company. The book is now in its ninth edition with contributing editors Alison Booth, University of Virginia, and Kelly J. Mays, University of Nevada.

“Based on the work of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Many of its practitioners assert that the meaning of a literary work does not lie on its surface but in the psyche of the author. The value of the work, then, lies in how powerfully and convincingly it expresses the author's unconscious and how universal the psychological elements are.”

A literary work's psychological meaning—conscious or unconscious—depends on the author's objective. Words composed for commercial value cannot be scrutinized for universal truths when monetary considerations and publishing guidelines obscure the mind of the writer. Marketing tactics snuff out genuine components, passion and spirit smothered beneath industry expectations that conflict with original intent.