Enigmas of Identity by Peter Brooks

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"We know that it matters crucially to be able to say who we are, why we are here, and where we are going," Peter Brooks writes in Enigmas of Identity. Many of us are also uncomfortably aware that we cannot provide a convincing account of our identity to others or even ourselves. Despite or because of that failure, we keep searching for identity, making it up, trying to authenticate it, and inventing excuses for our unpersuasive stories about it. This wide-ranging book draws on literature, law, and psychoanalysis to examine important aspects of the emergence of identity as a peculiarly modern preoccupation.

In particular, the book addresses the social, legal, and personal anxieties provoked by the rise of individualism and selfhood in modern culture. Paying special attention to Rousseau, Freud, and Proust, Brooks also looks at the intersection of individual life stories with the law, and considers the creation of an introspective project that culminates in psychoanalysis.

Elegant and provocative, Enigmas of Identity offers new insights into the questions and clues about who we think we are.


About Peter Brooks

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Peter Brooks is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar at Princeton University. He is the author of many works of literary criticism, including "Henry James Goes to Paris" (Princeton), "Reading for the Plot", "Psychoanalysis and Storytelling", and "Troubling Confessions". He is also the author of two novels, "The Emperor's Body" and "World Elsewhere".
Published September 19, 2011 by Princeton University Press. 232 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Literature & Fiction, Professional & Technical, Law & Philosophy, Self Help, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Enigmas of Identity


When I do the same thing, the same people say, in English, ‘Nice to meet you.’ When I continue to speak in Italian, they ask me: ‘How is it that you speak Italian so well?’ and I have to provide an explanation, I have to say why.

Mar 20 2016 | Read Full Review of Enigmas of Identity

Prague Post

This is the fertile ground at the center of Enigmas of Identity, a wide-ranging, inconclusive study of the nature of identity by Peter Brooks.

Mar 14 2012 | Read Full Review of Enigmas of Identity

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