Through a close reading of Freud’s last major work, Moses and Monotheism (1939), this article considers the socio-political and literary stakes of a central element of Freud’s oeuvre, which reaches its fullest elaboration in the Moses text: belatedness. Belatedness, or deferred action (Nachträglichkeit), which structures the movement of repression and return in the individual psychology of Freud’s earlier work, is aggravated and intensified in this late modernist text. Now, it is an entire people (the Jews) and (Judeo-Christian) civilization founded upon the temporal predicament of trauma, latency, and the return of the repressed. What is most innovative about Moses—its fragmentary style, its rewriting of biblical origins, its daring conjectures and methods of recording history—gestures back, after all, to the singular problem that both Freudian psychoanalysis and modernism are destined to repeat: the constitutive belatedness of all experience.

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