IN THE ABSENCE OF MAGIC by Ernst Pawel

IN THE ABSENCE OF MAGIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Just as From the Dark Tower (1957) was constructed on an idea and an institution (the organization and suburban development man) this too is a discussion piece in which the arguments are perhaps stronger than their proponents- a psychoanalyst and his former friend, disciple, patient. Burt, the ""typical product of an unfinished analysis"", knows most of the answers but has never achieved self-sufficiency, and he returns to the couch in periods of panic- as now when he tries to locate Peter, his original father-confessor and abiding father-figure. Peter, a renegade Freudian, an iconoclast, is also running away from his own failure (the wife and children he'd left behind in Europe to die) and is hiding out on an island with two adoptive war casualties, a boy and a girl, - Dolores. Peter, although he has allowed Burt to find him, remains unapproachable, cannot forgive him his previous defections, and is again the instrument of an attempted betrayal when Burt tries to seduce Dolores who realizes how and why she is being used. But it is Peter who sends Burt back to the world-suggesting he give up the panacea of ""make believe living"" which he has substituted for any real life.... Pawel, a fairly facile writer, juggles a lot of ideas, jostles some established precepts and props, and disposes of a lot of doctrinaire pretension, without killing the doctor or the patient or the essential purpose--understanding.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1960
Publisher: Macmillan