Aging and Its Discontents

Aging and Its Discontents

Freud and Other Fictions
Kathleen Woodward
Distribution: World
Publication date: 2/1/1991
ISBN: 978-0-253-11662-8
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" . . . an exemplary integration of psychoanalysis with critical theory, one which is intelligent, moving, and quietly daring." —Jessica Benjamin

"Professor Woodward brings together psychoanalysis, fiction, and reflections on aging and old age as no one has before." —Murray M. Schwartz

“The book is well written and very informative . . . ” —Age & Ageing

" . . . lucid and lively meditation on aging . . . convincingly and provocatively analyzes our culture's retrospective and anticipatory mourning of aging . . . " —Virginia Quarterly Review

“ . . . highly original . . . an important and insightful book, of value to anyone interesting in aging, literature, or psychoanalysis. It is accessible and clear in style and full of impressive common sense . . . ” —Medical Humanities Review

“ . . . one of the few available works to challenge the negative social constructions of the aging process.” —Religious Studies Review

“In her rich and brilliantly provocative analysis of the effect of negative cultural representations on our ideas about getting old, Woodward notes that it is not death but the aging body that we most fear, particularly when so many live on into fragile old age.” —Signs

In this pioneering book Kathleen Woodward argues that in the West ageism, like sexism and racism, is rooted in physical differences and in discrepancies in social power.

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Table of Contents


1. Introduction...Aging, Difference, and Subjectivity

2. Reading Freud...Aging, Castration, and Inertia

3. The Mirror Stage of Old Age...Marcel Proust’s The Past Recaptured

4. The Look and the Gaze: Narcissism, Aggression, and Aging...Virginia Woolf’s The Years

5. Gender, Generational Identity, and Aging...Eva Figes’s Waking

6. Between Mourning and Melancholia...Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida

7. The Transitional Object of the Oldest Age...Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies

8. Youthfulness as a Masquerade...Denial, Resistance, and Desire

9. Phantasms of the Aging Body...The Companion/Empty/Fragmenting Body



Works Cited