Lacan in spite of everything by Élisabeth Roudinesco ****

Reading dates: 23 April – 17 May 2014

I very much enjoyed reading Roudinesco’s appraisal of Lacan’s legacy, thirty years after his death. Only a psychoanalysis historian like her, author of Lacan’s biography, could take such a challenge in 224 pages. She gives an admirable account of Lacan’s ideas in short chapters, focusing on the family, womanhood and sexuality, Antigone, and his love of objects, for example. She mixes his life, his reception and his thought with his context thirty years ago and what it means now. She does this in a clear and accessible way. Yet, this book is not for the faint hearted. It is, I think, for the well-read Lacanian scholar. This is what made me enjoy it. I understood the familiar Lacanian turn of phrase, the inferences, in short, what Dany Nobus calls Lacanese. Without this, the book would be hard work, I think, quirky perhaps, but also impenetrable. For the Lacanians among us, it is provocative but measured, critical in a soft way and a good overview in a few pages. It reads like a review of his oeuvre and, as such, made me want to go back to the master (and subvert him), to re-read Encore, Seminar VII, and Kant avec Sade.