Granta's new How to Read series is based on a very simple, but novel, idea. Most beginners' guides to great thinkers and writers offer either potted biographies or condensed summaries of their major works. How to Read, by contrast, brings the reader face to face with the writing itself in the company of an expert guide. Its starting point is that in order to get close to what a writer is all about, you have to get close to the words they actually use and be shown how to read those words. Each book in the series will hopefully be a masterclass in reading. Our authors have been asked to select ten or so short extracts from a writer's work and look at them in detail as a way of revealing their central ideas and thereby opening the doors onto a whole world of thought. The books will not be merely a compilation of a thinker's most famous passages, their 'greatest hits', but will rather offer a series of clues or keys that will enable to reader to go on and make discoveries of their own. In addition to the texts and readings, each book will provide a short biographical chronology and suggestions for further reading, internet resources and so on.
The books in the How to Read don't claim to tell you all you need to know. Instead they offer a refreshing set of first-hand meetings with those minds. Our hope is that these books will instruct, intrigue, embolden, encourage and delight. In this engaging introduction, Josh Cohen argues that Freud shows above all that any thought, word or action, however apparently trivial, can invite close reading. Indeed, it may be just this insight that makes psychoanalysis so many opponents. By reading - closely - short extracts from across Freud's work addressing the neuroses, the unconscious, words, death and (of course) sex, How to Read Freud brings out the paradoxical core of psychoanalytic thinking: our innermost truths only ever manifest themselves as distortions. Read attentively, our dreams, errors, jokes, symptoms, in short, our everyday lives, reveal us as masters of disguise, as unrecognisable to ourselves as to others.