Although Launer portrays an intelligent, intellectually creative woman, he fails to make a convincing case that her...

SEX VERSUS SURVIVAL

THE LIFE AND IDEAS OF SABINA SPIELREIN

A forgotten psychoanalyst’s fevered life.

Tavistock Clinic senior staff member Launer (co-editor: Clinical Uncertainty in Primary Care, 2014, etc.) asserts that Sabina Spielrein (1885-1942) deserves more attention for her groundbreaking work: the first study of the internal logic of schizophrenic speech, her insights into children’s imaginations, and her use of Darwinian theory in her hypothesis of “the inseparable connection between death and sex.” Although Launer refrains from using technical terms, nonspecialist readers may weary of the minute detail with which he renders Spielrein’s life, which featured a severe mental breakdown, incoherent ravings, obsession with her therapist, Carl Jung, and much neurotic behavior. Granted access to newly discovered diaries and letters, the author admits that most of her papers, controlled by her estate, are unavailable to researchers. Nevertheless, he manages to fill out some mysteries of her stressful youth: Her father was alternately depressed or enraged; her mother, erratic, hysterical and overly anxious; both parents pressured her to excel academically. When her father beat her, she became sexually aroused; when her younger sister died, she fell apart. Tics, grimaces, psychosomatic symptoms and violent mood swings worsened. At 18, she was hospitalized in a mental asylum and diagnosed with hysteria; Jung was the admitting physician. Although Launer does not have evidence for the quality of Jung’s treatment, the result of their meeting was her consuming adoration, which he encouraged. “Her love for him,” Launer writes, “replaced her far more troubling obsessions….Her erotic experiences with him may have been her first experience of tender physical contact.” Later, she broke off the affair but wanted to remain friends; he cruelly spurned her. Freud became involved as a confidant of each, dismissing Spielrein when he was still friends with Jung but eager to win her over once he ended that relationship.

Although Launer portrays an intelligent, intellectually creative woman, he fails to make a convincing case that her significance transcends her time.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1468310580

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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