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Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English Paperback – January 17, 2007

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Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English + The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (Vol. Book XI)  (The Seminar of Jacques Lacan)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. French psychoanalyst Lacan (1901–1981) is perhaps best known for claiming that the unconscious is like a language that needs to be interpreted, rather than a storage space for repressed feelings. His writings, which borrow from such diverse fields as linguistics, philosophy, mathematics and religion, have had a profound impact on literary and cultural criticism as well as psychoanalysis. While the English-speaking world has enjoyed James Strachey's Standard Edition of Freud's complete works since 1967, there is no comparable standard English translation for Lacan's oeuvre. There have been at least six different translations of his writings into English, and some of the early translations are notoriously unreliable. Fink, a practicing psychoanalyst and professor at Duquesne University, has produced the first complete English translation of Écrits. This opus, first published by Éditions du Seuil in 1966, includes Lacan's most influential texts and is one of the most widely read works of 20th-century critical thought. The collection spans 30 years of Lacan's career and contains 35 texts, from "Beyond the 'Reality Principle'" (1936) and "The Mirror Stage" (1937) to "Science and Truth" (1966). Most of the texts date from the 1950s and 1960s—a crucial turning point in Lacan's development: it was then that he shifted his focus from the operations of language and the imaginary and symbolic orders to the concepts of the real, fantasy and the objet petit a. Fink's precise new translation makes this pivotal period in Lacan's thought more accessible to English speakers. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Lacan's style is - notoriously - as complicated as his ideas. But Fink's translation helps to make 'the mirror stage', 'transference' and 'psychical causality' understandable, if not readily approachable. It is worth the effort: both yours and that put in by the translator and publisher." Margaret Reynolds, The Times"

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393329259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393329254
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) was one of the twentieth century's most influential thinkers. His many published works include Ecrits and The Seminars.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Steward Willons TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a treat - the first complete English translation of Lacan's Ecrits with a wonderful translation by Bruce Fink. After reading a couple pieces, I compared with Sheridan's previous partial translation and found a number of differences. Overall, Fink tends to be more readable and, I suspect, accurate.

Since you're probably already aware of Lacan's thought and importance, I won't go into that here and will restrict my comments to this particular edition. Fink provides endnotes on the translation of certain difficult words and explains how he dealt with them, sometimes with specific examples for particularly tricky sections. It's clear that he understands Lacan's text inside and out. Additionally, his endnotes prove very helpful in understanding some of the German and Latin in Lacan's writing. Because I'm not an expert in psychoanalysis, I found Fink's explanations of certain terms and ideas very helpful.

Lacan provides an index of major concerts, but this was a bit different than what I was expecting. Rather than explicitly stating "The Symbolic Order means . . . ", he gives a general area where the read is encouraged to discover its essence. This is, all things considered, probably a better way to handle the situation for, as we know, Lacan's concepts do not fit into neat little summaries or paraphrases.

Overall, Norton did a great job putting this together. Provided you have the time to sit down and really spend some time with these essays, I definitely recommend this. Even if you don't always agree with Lacan's thought, Ecrits provides some excellent mental stimulation
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Abell on October 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When you take an erudite French psychoanalyst, who is presenting his take on Freud's German by pressing it through the sieve of French semiotics, one can only hope for so much when that text is then further strained by being pressed into English. A number of these "writings" were originally lectures, meant to be experienced in Lacan's own idiosyncratic delivery (you can enjoy him on YouTube, if you're curious). All this is a way of saying reading Lacan in English is far from a simple or direct thing. Bruce Fink has probably achieved as close to a "clear" translation as the original will allow. One needs to acknowledge that there are concepts that are perfectly clear in French that are a muddle in English, so when you have someone as full of himself as Lacan, that gets pretty intense sometimes. Then Lacan will suddenly engage an unexpected metaphor, or display a moment of real wit, and you forgive his pretentiousness. An influential thinker, and for those of us who haven't mastered French, we can be grateful that Monsieur Fink chose to accept this mission.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Cala on December 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
In the Ecrits, Lacan states that our discourse (our speech and language) comes in an inverted form from the Other (those who are not like Us). In a similar line of thought, we can simply say that it is a sense of difference (which is brought about by unconsciously associating with certain social signs and cultural symbols) that goes on to structure an individual's identity (which is their own personal interpretation of their true self, making it Imaginary).

In other words, identity is shaped by associating with signs and symbols, unconsciously (in, what Lacan calls, the Symbolic Realm or Order). And since those signs and symbols are the opposite of what Others use to define themselves, we see them as being different from Us, and, as such, create a false sense of separation (an Us and Them scenario). It should be noted, however, that the Other is not always outcast or alienated for being the opposite. The Other, in fact, can be the unattainable object of our desire (our "objet petit a").

In a way, people desire because they build an identity, which divides them from Others by a means of difference. In other words, we desire that which is not like us (like the yin looking for its yang, unaware that both yin and yang are already within us from the start). This, of course, is all a symbolic illusion brought about by language (found, for Lacan, in the unconscious association of signs).

Still, in our society, we see people desire every day, trying to find that difference (or Other) to match the missing part of their identity (that part looking for its missing piece) even though such a thing doesn't exist. Searching for the object of our desire is a lot like a person that is suffering from an imaginary persecution complex.
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34 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Etienne ROLLAND-PIEGUE on May 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Psychoanalysis has taught us that no lapsus is involuntary. A slip of the pen offers direct access to the unconscious, and one can learn much from reading typing errors and erasures--as the French have it, literature equals 'lis tes ratures'.

The opening page of Bruce Fink's English translation of Jacques Lacan's Ecrits offers such a Freudian slip that would have delighted the late French psychoanalyst, who passed away in 1981. On the first page after the title page, the copyright to the original version mentions 'Les Editions du Deuil' instead of referring to 'Les Editions du Seuil', the well-known French publishing house. 'Deuil' pour 'Seuil', mourning instead of threshold: the reader encounters death on the doorstep, he stumbles upon grief at the brink, and sorrow invites itself in.

A Freudian slip is like saying one thing, but meaning your mother. What this typing error suggests, having passed the vigilance of several proof readers, is that we are in mourning of a certain event, of a presence that is forever missing. Only traces remain, but the word is no longer here, and we are reduced to deciphering a script through and beyond its erasures.

Which brings us to a central question: can Lacan pass the test of translation, and is it possible to read his Ecrits in English? Some French authors were meant to be translated. I, for one, find it much easier to read Jacques Derrida in English than in French, although I was born and bred in France and was fortunate enough to attend some of Derrida's lectures at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris.

But Lacan, who also lectured at the ENS, is another matter.
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