Robert Rowland Smith takes Freud's work on the death-drive and compares it with other philosophies of death - Pascal, Heidegger and Derrida in particular.
He also applies it in a new way to literature and art - to Shakespeare, Rothko and Katharina Fritsch, among others.
He asks whether artworks are dead or alive, if artistic creativity isn't actually a form of destruction, and whether our ability to be seduced by fine words means we don't put our selves at risk of death.
In doing so, he proposes a new theory of aesthetics in which artworks and literary texts have a death-drive of their own, not least by their defining ability to turn away from all that is real, and where the effects of the death-drive mean that we are constantly living in imaginary, rhetorical or 'artistic' worlds.
The book also provides a valuable introduction to the rich tradition of work on the death-drive since Freud.
Key Features * Includes a general introduction to the death-drive * Presents an original theory of aesthetics * Analyses both theoretical and clinical psychoanalysis * Offers in-depth treatment of Freud * Provides an overview of philosophies of death