The Political Unconscious

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The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act
The Political Unconscious.jpg
Cover of the 1982 Cornell University Press edition
AuthorFredric Jameson
CountryUnited States
SubjectLiterary criticism
Media typePrint

The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act is a 1981 book by Fredric Jameson, a Marxist literary theorist. Often cited as a powerful overview and methodological guide, it is the work with which Jameson made his greatest impact. The book has been the subject of a commentary, Jameson, Althusser, Marx (1984), by William C. Dowling, who believes that its main idea had been previously outlined by Terry Eagleton and notes that it is influenced by such thinkers as A. J. Greimas, Northrop Frye, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Claude Lévi-Strauss. Jameson's interpretive framework, including his neo-Lacanian idea of unconscious ideology and his invocation of structural causality to reconcile Marxist and post-Marxist perspectives, was largely borrowed from Louis Althusser.[1]

The book opens with one of Jameson's most famous bons mots, 'Always historicise!'.[2]


  1. ^ Crews, Frederick (1986). Skeptical Engagements. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 148–149. ISBN 0-19-503950-5.
  2. ^ Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Social Symbolic Act (London: Methuen, 1981), p. 9.