Apart from assuming a too-sophisticated knowledge of psychoanalysis by readers, this triumph of scholarship is also highly...

JUNG

A BIOGRAPHY

A fastidious, full-scale biography of the Swiss psychologist.

Few characters in the history of psychoanalysis have been as gifted, pivotal, or personally fascinating as the polymorphous Jung, who, with Freud, was one of the two great figures of 20th-century psychology. Jung was born in Basel to a long line of patrician German and Swiss physicians and clergymen, but his own parents were poor and odd, and “Pastor’s Carl,” as he was called as a boy, was unpromising, to say the least. Haunted by visions and drawn to corpses and spiritual contact with the dead, he was silent, awkward, and inscrutable, even to himself. Medical school gave him a method and a focus; while studying schizophrenics in the Zurich asylum, he discovered an associative protocol that made him famous throughout Europe and gained him the attention of Sigmund Freud. Prizewinning Bair (Samuel Beckett, 1978; Anaïs Nin, 1995, etc.) painstakingly tracks Jung’s restless apprenticeship to the dominating Freud and his painful defection from Freud’s belief that an “incest complex” lies at the heart of all neuroses and psychoses. Jung became a colorful and dominating figure in Zurich, attracting patients—primarily wealthy, worshipful, sexually frustrated women—from all over the world to his office in the Victorian home he shared with his long-suffering wife and awe-stricken children. Through his active practice and through self-analysis, dreams, visions, séances, and a study of religion, mythology, and alchemy, in the 1920s and ’30s he created such concepts as introversion and extroversion, the collective unconscious, and synchronicity. Yet his family, junior colleagues, collaborators, and mistresses all paid the price of his growing self-obsession. Bair makes this clear without overt judgment, and her closing portrait of the elderly analyst in “a vanishing world,” trying to understand himself at last by writing his brilliant memoir Memories, Dreams, Reflections, is riveting, inspiring, and unforgettable.

Apart from assuming a too-sophisticated knowledge of psychoanalysis by readers, this triumph of scholarship is also highly accessible.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-07665-1

Page Count: 896

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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