Don Juan Legend

Don Juan Legend

Otto Rank
Translated and Edited, with an Introduction by DAVID G. WINTER
Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 158
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x13c5
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  • Book Info
    Don Juan Legend
    Book Description:

    Originally published in 1924, this study of the Don Juan legend is a powerful interpretation of one of the most popular themes in Western culture. Also valuable for the insights it offers into Rank's thought immediately before his break with Freud, the book has not been available in English until now. Rank's study draws on psychoanalysis, literature, history, and anthropology to suggest some psychological mechanisms that operate both within the principal characters of the legend and within the audience or reader.

    Originally published in 1975.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7306-7
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. LIST OF VERSIONS OF DIE DON JUAN-GESTALT
    (pp. x-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-34)

    Otto Rank was one of the most brilliant and imaginative, yet surely one of the most perplexing members of the group who were drawn to Freud and who participated in the early development of psychoanalysis. Rank analyzed myth and legend with an insight and a facility that approached that of the master; his energy and resourcefulness were essential to the survival of the early psychoanalytic publishing ventures; his wide reading and knowledge of literature were more than once of assistance to Freud’s own work; and he was perhaps Freud’s closest continuing associate for fifteen years. Yet in the midst of...

  6. THE DON JUAN LEGEND
    • 1. PSYCHOANALYTIC INTERPRETATION OF THE DON JUAN LEGEND
      (pp. 37-44)

      The immortal name of the Spanish love hero, with its magical sound, instinctively evokes a series of erotic images and anticipations that appear indissolubly bound up with it. We have decided to write down under this title certain reflections and thoughts which were stimulated by an outstanding performance of Mozart’s masterpiece [Don Giovanni] at the Vienna Opera (November 13, 1921). Yet it must be said in advance that we shall discuss only a few of the generally fascinating aspects of the Don Juan figure. We shall say even less of Mozart, who had perhaps an even greater share in the...

    • 2. DON JUAN AND LEPORELLO
      (pp. 45-48)

      Following our orientation, we direct our gaze away from the surpassing figure of Don Juan. Our attention is then drawn to a striking characteristic of his no less famous servant Leporello, a characteristic that, after a short digression, leads back again to the hero. On the one hand, this servant is really a friend and confidant in every love intrigue; yet on the other hand, he is certainly not a willing companion and helper, but rather a cowardly, anxious, cringing soul who is concerned only for his own interest. In his first aspect, he permits himself unbounded critical observations (“The...

    • 3. LEPORELLO AS EGO IDEAL
      (pp. 49-52)

      We must above all be clear that, in expressing such a formulation involving the identity of Don Juan and Leporello, we have already departed from the basis of the usual literary-aesthetic considerations in favor of a psychological interpretation that completely disregards the overt meaning of the figures. Thus, for example, in Heckel’s description of the striking characteristic of Leporello we have not so much the portrait of a whole personality, but rather an intimation of the close psychological connection between these two figures (1915, p. 24):¹

      As thisnegative herois bound to the audacious seducer, who does not tremble...

    • 4. ELABORATION OF THE EGO IDEAL
      (pp. 53-60)

      By the term ego ideal, Freud understood a combination of those criticizing and censoring elements in mankind that normally carry out the repression of certain wishes and that ensure, through a function we call conscience, that these barriers are not broken through. This organ of control in psychic life is composed of two complementary and mutually regulating factors: an outer one, which stands for the demands of the surrounding world; and an inner one, which represents the claims in themselves.¹ More precisely said, the ego ideal is really a representation of inner demands or claims, which have, however, already assimilated...

    • 5. THE FIGURE OF AVENGING DEATH
      (pp. 61-77)

      We began with a psychological formulation of the identity or psychic unity of the figures of Don Juan and Leporello. We believe that this identity can be viewed as one typical expression of a process of poetic shaping that results from the formation and artistic representation of the ego ideal. We were able to interpret these two poetic figures purely in terms of mental¹ mechanisms, because they involve products of artistic fantasy that spring full-blown from the mind of the poet. However, the figure of the Stone Guest is different. To be sure, we have interpreted this figure as an...

    • 6. THE PRIMAL FATHER AND AVENGING DEATH
      (pp. 78-86)

      If we believe that the legend of the flesh-eating Demon of Death who avenges the primal crime can be recognized in the Stone Guest figure of the Don Juan legend, then the question is raised of how such an interpretation is related both to our previous explanation of the figure as conscience and also to the Don Juan motif itself. We shall find the answers to both questions in human prehistory and its vestiges in the later traditions.

      The demon of death, who returns from the grave to devour the guilty, is nothing other than the personification of the pangs...

    • 7. THE DON JUAN LEGEND AS HEROIC DISTORTION
      (pp. 87-96)

      We have certainly come rather far from the theme of Don Juan and his adversary the Stone Guest, but we have moved in the direction of the heroic legends of prehistory because we can regard the Don Juan fantasy as their most extreme development. Don Juan is the audacious blasphemer, who would deny conscience, guilt feelings, and anxiety with a cynicism that surpasses anything in the heroic tradition. He stifles his dread of the flesh-eating primal father’s revenge with an unelicited invitation to a mirthful banquet. Yet on the other hand, he openly admits the primal crime; according to our...

    • 8. WOMEN IN THE DON JUAN LEGEND
      (pp. 97-102)

      We are about to cite the poets themselves as evidence for our psychoanalytic interpretation, but first it is necessary to give a very general account of the extent to which this is both permissible and fruitful. In the creations of significant artists, psychoanalysis has repeatedly found ample confirmation of its interpretations of psychic events—interpretations that the poet often senses, or feels intuitively, and then puts in artistic form. One of the first problems of applied analysis was to study the deeper conditions of this relationship (Rank, 1907), and since then it has on occasion investigated them in detail. To...

    • 9. THE LEGEND OVER TIME
      (pp. 103-119)

      Having traced the psychological motives of the original Don Juan figure from its primal historical roots up through its most recent poetic branches, our remaining task is to pursue the individual artistic modifications of the material from its medieval origin in the Christian conception of sin.

      The oldest appearance of Don Juan in world literature is a Spanish comedy, now apparently lost, that appeared at about the end of the sixteenth century. TheBurladoris a slightly altered form of this play. For a very long time this work was attributed to the monk Fray Gabriel Téllez, a prolific dramatist...

    • 10. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE POET
      (pp. 120-126)

      We have followed in rough outline the process of poetic shaping and modification of the subject matter. This process shows the double function and effect of the poetic art. Up to a certain point, the primal motives underlying the poetic fantasy construction are expressed. As the guilt feelings increase and become intolerable, this expression gradually gives way to a devaluation of the tragic subject matter. The devaluation corresponds to the mastery of the problem of guilt. Beyond a certain definite point, however, the presentation of the unconscious motive becomes repellent through its coarseness just as it becomes ineffectual and inartistic...

  7. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 127-136)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 137-144)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 145-145)