Beethoven, described here as ""the most active personality who ever lived"" has been isolated by his admirers on a pinnacle of spiritual perfection, and none of the vicissitudes of his personal life in any way detract from it. Burnett James is another writer who refuses to call this interpretation either a biography or a musical critique, while actually his book is a mutant. Even when speaking of Beethoven in terms of ""ultimate realities"", James finds it difficult to avoid oblique references to Freud, Kant and the neo-Romanticists. What type of scholarship produces books of this kind? Sympathizers with Beethoven, as a convention- breaker, cannot help but balk at James' innuen- does that Beethoven was lacking in social fortitude. Serious musicologists will probably regret James' inconsequential treatment of Beethoven's contribution to music. Undoubtedly this volume will become part of ""the Beethoven literature"" but it provides little new information and it is too esoteric in its approach and interpretation for the general reader.