Mannoni, a psychoanalyst who trained with Jacques Lacan, is not interested in biography as such or in popularization though his study is certainly designed for a popular audience. His focus is on the genesis of Freudian theory, from the clinical and intellectual perspective of the time and from the vantage of Freud's own experience when this had a decisive influence on his thought (as in the relationship with Fleiss and the controversial ""self-analysis,"" in which cases Mannoni's method approaches the analytic). The style is extremely lucid and respectful of readers' intelligence; but this assumes, at the very least, that a standard edition of Freud is close at hand. The significance of classic cases is carefully detailed, though their explicit content is barely indicated; and while the elucidations of major propositions are remarkably clear they stand as commentaries rather than substitutes for the original texts. Accepted as a study guide, however, it offers a basic outline of Freudian metapsychology, clarifications of misleading points of translation (e.g., ""Treib,"" ""Instinkt""), and, most especially, a constructively appreciative exposition of Freud's iconoclasm, undimmed by retrospective judgments. As to the post-Freudian establishment, a concluding chapter implies criticism with so many modest demurrals that one could turn more profitably to Erich Fromm; but Mannoni can scarcely be topped for conveying the hazardous excitement of the discipline's beginnings. An elaborate chronology and extensive notes.