Peter Brooks writes: “My work on ‘identity’ – part of a new book entitled Enigmas of Identity – came upon the intriguing issue of ageing writers, thinkers and artists whose work seems to leap in their final years into something radically new, creating a new phase or period in their oeuvre. Examples include (among others) Yeats, Cézanne [illustrated] and Freud. After brief attention to Yeats and Cézanne, most of my talk will be about Freud’s later work, especially Moses and Monotheism and Analysis Terminable and Interminable, set in relation to more traditional conceptions of historicism, narrative, repetition and renewal.”
About the speakers
Originally based in French literature, Peter Brooks’s writing has been exceptionally imaginative and versatile in its engagements across several humanities disciplines: with art history, psychoanalysis, legal studies, and literary theory. His many books include The Melodramatic Imagination (1976), Reading for the Plot (1984), Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature (2000), Realist Vision (2005), and Henry James Goes to Paris (2007). His second novel, The Emperor’s Body, was published earlier this year, and a further book, Enigmas of Identity, on which this lecture will partly draw, is to appear in November 2011. Now teaching at Princeton, Peter Brooks was previously Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale, where he was the inaugural director of the Whitney Humanities Center. In 2007 his remarkable body of work was recognized by a Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award. Last year he was elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy.
Terence Cave (respondent), is Emeritus Professor of French Literature at Oxford. In 2009 he won the Balzan Foundation prize in the category ‘Literature since 1500’ and as a result of this award he is currently directing a major project investigating ‘Literature as an Object of Knowledge’.