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Enigmas of Identity$
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Peter Brooks

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151588

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151588.001.0001

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The “Outcast of the Universe”?

The “Outcast of the Universe”?

3 The “Outcast of the Universe”?
Enigmas of Identity

Peter Brooks

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the case of an impostor. Within the general plot of disguise and misprision there may be a special place for the impostor, the willful trickster who would have others believe he or she is another. The version of the impostor most familiar in the popular imagination may be the spy, especially the double agent. The spy offers a version of one's worst fears about the instability of one's self, one's proteanism as a certain hollowness. Meanwhile, psychoanalyst Helene Deutsch became interested in what she called “as-if” personalities who only tentatively inhabit one identity. Ultimately, imposture allows one to live out a life according to one's fantasies without attributing this life to one's self, since one knows one's “true” identity is not up to the fantasy.

Keywords:   impostor, disguise, spy, double agent, proteanism, imposture, misprision

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