“And the dead return”: Klein and the “Uncanny” in Schnitzler’s “Flowers” and Dream Story

By: Nicolette David

Abstract: This article proposes a Kleinian re-working of Freud’s “The Uncanny” through an exploration of Arthur Schnitzler’s “Flowers” and Dream Story, works in which female figures appear to return from the dead to persecute the living. It argues that these women may be seen to be animated by Melanie Klein’s insights into infantile aggression. Starting with a discussion of Freud’s essay “The Uncanny” and the recent critical response to it, the article then explores in depth the significance of the persecutory women in the two stories. In both, these “uncanny” female bodies are experienced as coming to life in order to launch a deadly attack. The article concludes that the “Kleinian Uncanny” is a powerful critical tool for the analysis of Schnitzler’s texts.