Beyond Discontent: ‘Sublimation’ from Goethe to Lacan

By | May 25, 2012

Beyond Discontent, the latest volume in our “New Directions in German Studies,” is by Eckart Goebel, Professor and Chair of German at New York University. The following, by the book’s translator, James C. Wagner, sums up its singular contribution rather neatly:

"The fourth volume in Continuum's New Directions in German Studies series, Beyond Discontent: 'Sublimation' from Goethe to Lacan by Eckart Goebel is a first-of-its-kind study of a concept that has been at the heart of aesthetics and psychoanalysis for well over a century, though it has rarely if ever been clearly defined or theorized. The book provides a sweeping discursive and conceptual history of the idea of sublimation and its implications for the development of Western literature and philosophy, centered around the question of whether our primal drives can actually be transformed and overcome, or whether sublimation always means a renunciation of personal happiness for the sake of cultural achievement. Professor Goebel is equally at home whether he is performing close readings of individual texts by the likes of Goethe and Thomas Mann, or navigating the expansive corpera of prolific writers and thinkers such as Nietzsche and Freud. The truly impressive scope of the essays offered here is matched only by the depth of their arguments and insights. In addition, Professor Goebel's prose throughout is as lively as it is rigorous; it was truly a joy to translate."

We have had some fantastic early comments on the book from Prof. John Hamilton of Harvard University and Prof. Silke-Maria Weineck of the University of Michigan:

"In this highly sophisticated and kaleidoscopic account, Eckart Goebel offers a penetrating study of a topic that, despite its ubiquity, has hitherto failed to receive a sustained and critical analysis: ‘sublimation.’ With theoretical astuteness and literary elegance, philosophical and literary works are brought into fascinating and reciprocally illuminating conversation." — John T. Hamilton, Professor of Comparative Literature, Chair 2011-2012, Harvard University, USA

“It is good news that we finally have a book on the concept of sublimation, but we are particularly fortunate to have gotten such a smart, profound, and moving one. Beyond Discontent is much more than the exploration of a Freudian concept — it is an extraordinarily successful study in the history of a figure of thought central to all theories of civilization.” — Silke-Maria Weineck, Associate Professor of German and Chair of Comparative Literature, University of Michigan, USA

Beyond Discontent is available now in North America and will publish elsewhere on June 28th.

Other volumes in "New Directions in German Studies":


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