"Freud and Literature." Originally published as "The Legacy of Sigmund Freud, Part 2: Literary and Aesthetic." Kenyon Review 2, No. 2 (Spring 1940): 152-73. A revised version appeared in Horizon, September 1947.
Excerpt, from Horizon:
The Freudian psychology is the only systematic account of the human mind whch, in point of subtlety and complexity, of interest and tragic power, deserves to stand beside the chaotic mass of psychological insights which literature has accumulated through the centuries. To pass from the reading of a great literary work to a treatise of academic psychology is to pass from one order of perception to another, but the human nature of the Freudian psychology is exactly the stuff upon which the poet has always exercised his art. It is therefore not surprising that the psycho-analytical theory has had a great effect upon literature. Yet the relationship is reciprocal and the effect of Freud upon literature has been no greater than the effect of literature upon Freud. When, on the occasion of the celebration of his seventieth birthday, Freud was greeted as the ‘discoverer of the unconscious’, he corrected the speaker and disclaimed the title. ‘The poets and philosophers before me discovered the unconscious ; what I discovered was the scientific method by which the unconscious can be studied.’