LOVE'S BODY by Norman O. Brown


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Professor Brown's book, like its predecessor Life Against Death, represents an attempt to formulate, from Freudian concepts, a comprehensive view of human history. From the perspective of Freud's writings, the author analyzes what he conceives of as the major problems of human existence: liberty, nature, unity, the person, revolution, freedom, etc. But, to paraphrase Brown paraphrasing Euripides, the demonic is polymorphous: the gods decree many surprises; expectations are not realized. Dr. Brown's problem is not with his writing: he writes well, sometimes superbly. His difficulty is that he gives the reader the feeling that there is a thesis to be proved, and, come what may, it is going to be proved regardless of the evidence. In attempting to establish his psycho-historical weltanschauung, he resists too little the temptation to emphasize those similarities, sometimes only apparent, between Freud's thought and that of the various philosophers, historians, and theologians whom he cites; and consequently he de-emphasizes, to everyone's disadvantage, the really significant dis-similiarities. The result is, as the author intends, a comprehensive view of human history: unfortunately, however, like the demonstrations of religious dogmas, it is a view to which only the true believer will subscribe. The work, therefore, despite Brown's immense erudition and rhetorical brilliance, is a failure. But even as a failure, it may be recommended to the literate reader as a splendidly conceived intellectual gymnastic.

Publisher: Random House