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The Chamber of Maiden Thought
Chamber of Maiden Thought book cover

What is the nature of the relationship between literature and psychoanalysis?


Chapters on Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats and Emily Bronte
by Meg Harris Williams,
and on George Eliot and 'parallel directions in psychoanalysis' by Margot Waddell


Cover illustration: Cupid & Psyche
by Meg Harris Williams

click here for original etching


Published in 1991 by Routledge, London.

Reissued in 2013 click here


From the Preface

This book was written in response to the inceasing interest in literature amongst psychoanalysts and psychotherapists. Its aim is to help give direction to the present confusing convergence between psychoanalytic and literary art forms, by providing a historical literary perspective for modern psychoanalytic thinking, instead of a medical-scientific one. The idea is not to deliver any ultimate interpretations of literary works, using psychoanalytic theory as a 'key to all philosophies', but to put the 'post-Kleinian' model of the mind in touch with its origins in the literary tradition. This model is, one hopes, still itself in a healthy state of evolution, so throughout the book we have avoided both psychoanalytic and literary jargon.
In writing this book therefore, we hope to enable psychoanalytic workers to respond to the seminal influence of literature in exploring symbolic mental processes, and to begin to tap a cultural potential whose wealth and complexity never cease to reward one's awe and amazement - as Bion would say, 'in love, hate and the pursuit of knowledge'.

Meg Harris Williams, 1991