AGAN RITES by Theodor Reik


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It hardly matters that Reik's marriage of anthropology with psychoanalysis may be scientifically incompatible; what matters is that his- let's face it- hobby-like explorations through varyingly idolatrous rites and practices from the Hebraic past pour forth such a cornucopia of facts and fancies, theories and reconstructions. Reik has never been able to unGermanize his English, sounding always like the Hollywood refugee doctor, but that only adds to the motley. Under discussion: prayer shawls and phylacteries, the significance of family solidarity, burials and mournings, taboos and temptations. Reik is particularly fruitful relating what he terms ""the return of the repressed"" to an explanation of the Kaddish transformation- originally a doxology, later a prayer for the dead. He also offers a pungent commentary on the involved re-emergences of the traditional mother-goddess changed into a god-i.e. the patriarchal absorption of matriarchal culture.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1964
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Co.