This book provides a psychoanalytic reading of works of literature, enhancing the illuminating effect of both fields.

The second of two volumes, The Birth of a Political Self: The Jean-Max Gaudillière Seminars 2001-2014 contains seven of the "Madness and the Social Link" seminars given by psychoanalyst Jean-Max Gaudillière at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris between 2001 and 2014, transcribed by Françoise Davoine from her notes. Each year, the seminar was dedicated to an author who explored madness in their depiction of the catastrophes of history. Surprising the reader at every turn, the seminars speak of the close intertwining of personal lives and catastrophic historical events, and of the possibility of repairing injury to the psyche, the mind and the body in their wake.

These volumes expose the usefulness of literature as a tool for healing, for all those working in therapeutic fields, and will allow lovers of literature to discover a way of reading that gives access to more subtle perspectives and unsuspected interrelations.

chapter |3 pages


ByFrançoise Davoine

chapter 1|54 pages

Seminar 8: 2001–2002 Wilfred Bion (1897–1979)

Questions of memory
ByJean-Max Gaudillière

chapter 2|36 pages

Seminar 9: 2003–2004 Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910), Vasily Grossman (1905–1964), W. G. Sebald (1944–2001) and Eric Kandel (1929–)

The history of wars in War and Peace, Life and Fate, Austerlitz and In Search of Memory
ByJean-Max Gaudillière

chapter 3|16 pages

Seminar 10: 2005–2006 J. W. von Goethe (1749–1832)

Madness against cognitive distortions
ByJean-Max Gaudillière

chapter 4|14 pages

Seminar 11: 2007–2008 Robert Musil (1880–1942)

The birth certificate of phantoms
ByJean-Max Gaudillière

chapter 5|23 pages

Seminar 12: 2009–2010 François Rabelais (1483–1553) and Yvette Guilbert (1865–1944)

Mirroring madness
ByJean-Max Gaudillière

chapter 6|24 pages

Seminar 13: 2011–2012 Jack Kerouac (1922–1969)

On the Road
ByJean-Max Gaudillière

chapter 7|25 pages

Seminar 14: 2013–2014 Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)

Timequake: 1 the hard reality of fiction
ByJean-Max Gaudillière