An intriguing excavation that reveals Freud’s deep interest in archaeology, his distaste for modern art and his acquisitive...

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THE SPHINX ON THE TABLE

SIGMUND FREUD’S ART COLLECTION AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PSYCHOANALYSIS

On the 150th anniversary of his birth comes a fresh look at the founder of psychoanalysis as a dedicated collector of antiquities.

Australian art historian and biographer Burke tackles her subject chronologically, introducing Freud (1856–1939) as a three-year-old acquiring the childhood memories on which, she says, he “built the entire edifice of psychoanalysis” and concluding with his funeral in London. Exposed to the glories of art in Paris during the 1880s, when he studied under neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, he did not become a collector until he was 40, inspired by a visit to Florence in 1896. Over the next four decades, Freud acquired more than 2,000 statues, vases, reliefs, busts, fragments of papyrus, rings, precious stones and prints, which he arranged in a crowded display in his study. He also collected Greek and Roman works, but he had a special passion for the Egyptians. Burke contends that Freud began acquiring Egyptian tomb art while mourning the death of his father and that psychoanalysis and art-collecting developed together, each nourishing the other. Writing during an era of great archaeological discoveries, Freud compared the work of the archaeologist to that of the psychoanalyst, who must uncover layer after layer of dreams and memories before reaching the deepest, most valuable treasures. The author pays particular attention to Oedipus, with whom, she says, Freud identified as a man of destiny, and to the Sphinx, that symbol of troublesome femininity. Burke recounts how Freud’s formulation of the Oedipus complex eliminated the Sphinx (present in the original myth) and argues that his creativity was not scientific but was inspired by the myths and heroic legends of his childhood. Whatever one makes of this analysis, the author has created a rich portrait of Freud’s life in Vienna and his purchasing travels to Italy and Greece.

An intriguing excavation that reveals Freud’s deep interest in archaeology, his distaste for modern art and his acquisitive nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8027-1503-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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