THE SEASONS OF A MAN'S LIFE by Daniel J. & Others Levinson
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Although pre-empted by Sheehy's Passages, Levinson's delineation of adult life. cycle stages is the more solidly researched work, a keystone of the popular book and a better choice for professionals and discerning readers. Based on the lives of (volunteer) executives, workers, biologists, and novelists, it establishes distinct periods during which the completion of developmental tasks--rather than the experience of specific events--is essential for subsequent development. Forty lives are followed, four quite thoroughly, providing evidence of successful and less salutary resolutions of these tasks. Although Levinson examines the adolescence (ages 17-33) of the men involved, he concentrates on middle adulthood as the most critical time--of Becoming One's Own Man (late thirties), of making the not-always-stormy Mid-life Transition (early forties). The individual experiences, of course, show infinite variations--patterns of failure in personal and vocational pursuits, or conventional contentments, or extraordinary financial achievement and public recognition. But the underlying rhythms are remarkably alike, demonstrating successions in adult life quite similar to the overlapping stages of child development. Eschewing flashy gimmicks or intrusive scholarly apparatus, Levinson writes prudently and generalizes guardedly, noting the role of ""marker events,"" returning to several common subjects (a guiding Mentor, a motivating Dream), and isolating several polarities (Young/Old, Destruction/Creation, Masculine/Feminine, Attachment/Separateness) which call for resolution, most insistently during the Mid-life Transition period. Levinson's associates are accorded due credit; the influence of Freud, Jung, and Erikson is apparent and acknowledged; the conception and conclusions are original and, potentially, the scaffold for any number of future studies.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1978
ISBN: 0345339010
Publisher: Knopf