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On the Englishing of Freud

Arnold Davidson, 3 November 1983

Freud and Man’s Soul 
by Bruno Bettelheim.
Chatto, 112 pp., £6.95, July 1983, 9780701127046
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... It is difficult to know how Bruno Bettelheim would wish this book to be read. Part memoir, part popular introduction to psychoanalysis, and part scholarly interpretation and vindication of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, it raises many questions that are crucial to our understanding of Freud’s work. Bettelheim wants to undermine the scientific reading of Freud in favour of a humanistic reading ...

I Love You Still

Russell Jacoby, 9 February 1995

Intellectuals in Exile: Refugee Scholars and the New School for Social Research 
by Claus-Dieter Krohn, translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber.
Massachusetts, 255 pp., $15.95, July 1994, 0 87023 864 7
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... Hans Morgenthau, Hannah Arendt or Leo Strauss; American psychoanalysis without Erik Erikson, Bruno Bettelheim or Heinz Hartmann; American publishing without Kurt Wolff or Theodore Schocken; architecture without Walter Gropius; art history without Erwin Panofsky; mathematics without Kurt Gödel; physics without Enrico Fermi – and the list goes on ...

Hatching, Splitting, Doubling

James Lasdun: Smooching the Swan, 21 August 2003

Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self 
by Marina Warner.
Oxford, 264 pp., £19.99, October 2002, 0 19 818726 2
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... and so forth, to reveal how mutable they are and how adaptable to social manipulation. Where Bruno Bettelheim believes that the motif of the lost mother and wicked stepmother is an example of fairytales’ timeless and therapeutic wisdom, providing children with images of their parents’ benign and menacing aspects, Warner suggests that this motif ...

Holocaust Art

Robert Taubman, 10 January 1983

Schindler’s Ark 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 432 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 340 27838 2
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... in books; and what was known of them in official circles seems to have made little impression. Bruno Bettelheim tells us that from 1939 to 1942 it was impossible to get the camps and the SS taken seriously. Bettelheim was imprisoned before the war in Dachau and Buchenwald, and has given his story in The Informed ...


Michael Burns, 18 November 1993

Death and the After-Life in Modern France 
by Thomas Kselman.
Princeton, 413 pp., £40, March 1993, 0 691 00889 2
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... fairy tales and folk narratives of death. Kselman draws on the ‘hermeneutic vocabularies’ of Bruno Bettelheim, Lévi-Strauss and others, but by pledging allegiance to no single theory he avoids the pitfalls of reductionism. Most impressively, he listens to the storytellers and captures the eloquence, cleverness and fatalism of popular tales. The ...


Christopher Driver, 19 May 1983

Fools of Fortune 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 239 pp., £7.50, April 1983, 0 370 30953 7
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What a beautiful Sunday! 
by Jorge Semprun, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Secker, 429 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 9780436446603
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An Innocent Millionaire 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 388 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 241 10929 9
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The Papers of Tony Veitch 
by William McIlvanney.
Hodder, 254 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 340 22907 1
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In the Shadow of the Paradise Tree 
by Sasha Moorsom.
Routledge, 247 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 7100 9408 6
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The Bride 
by Bapsi Sidhwa.
Cape, 248 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 224 02047 1
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... you wore: Buchenwald was the continuation of total war by other means, although as Heimler – and Bruno Bettelheim – discovered, cunning, moral fibre or luck could always raise you into a life expectation not shared by the rest of your group. Semprun’s untidy, repetitive, but refreshingly combative book about Buchenwald also exemplifies a belief of ...

Once upon a Real Time

Wendy Doniger, 23 March 1995

From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 458 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 7011 3530 1
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... which diffuse the sense of dange’ and guilt (a bit like contemporary self-help support groups). Bruno Bettelheim noted (in The Uses of Enchantment) the comfort that even a solitary telling can bring to a child who realises that other people have told and heard the tale and, presumably, have also experienced the threatening fantasies. When Warner tells ...

The Things about Bayley

Nicholas Spice, 7 May 1987

The Order of Battle at Trafalgar, and other essays 
by John Bayley.
Collins Harvill, 224 pp., £12, April 1987, 0 00 272848 6
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... the boats are being built. This illustration is the only thing I can remember from a lecture by Bruno Bettelheim which I heard in 1975. It struck me at the time because I had just finished a year at an American university, where I had sometimes had the impression that knowledge was understood to be palpable stuff which it was the duty of learning to ...


Richard Stern, 15 August 1991

... brilliantly, interminably, unstoppably (until someone physically interrupted and stopped him). Bruno Bettelheim had whispered to me: ‘He’s a megalomaniac.’ I was surprised at the word then, and didn’t want to think of it now in connection with this other brilliant, charming man. I preferred to think of the occasional inability of Schubert to ...

Little People

Claude Rawson, 15 September 1983

The Borrowers Avenged 
by Mary Norton.
Kestrel, 285 pp., £5.50, October 1982, 0 7226 5804 4
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... case of full-sized dwarfs or midgets, two or three feet, which is the usual range in real life. Bruno Bettelheim, whose book on fairy-tales reads like the work of a Laputan philosopher, says dwarfs symbolise a phallic existence. It’s lucky that he didn’t take in Lilliputians, whose size is actually that of a human phallus, for he would have been ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... the range is imposing – Raymond Queneau, Roland Barthes, E.M. Cioran, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Bruno Bettelheim, Peter Gay’s Art and Act, The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse – the casual erudition much in evidence. Updike is a master at summing up careers: from the letters of Kafka, Joyce, Flaubert and Hemingway he assembles what amount to ...

Call a kid a zebra

Daniel Smith: On the Spectrum, 19 May 2016

In a Different Key: The Story of Autism 
by John Donvan and Caren Zucker.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 1 84614 566 7
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NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently 
by Steve Silberman.
Allen and Unwin, 534 pp., £9.99, February 2016, 978 1 76011 364 3
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... the astronomer Francis Wollaston was to say of him. Both books also rightly flay the writings of Bruno Bettelheim, the mid-century psychoanalytic huckster (he called himself ‘doctor’ but had neither a medical degree nor any training in clinical psychology) who got famous by popularising the idea that autism was caused by emotionally frigid ...

Streamlined Smiles

Rosemary Dinnage: Erik Erikson, 2 March 2000

Identity’s Architect: A Biography of Erik Erikson 
by Lawrence Friedman.
Free Association, 592 pp., £15.95, May 1999, 9781853434716
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... which alone would keep the personality intact and flexible enough to make it a going concern.’ (Bruno Bettelheim, whose work does not seem to have impinged on Erikson’s at all, had the same uneasy reaction to the polite, well-adjusted kibbutzniks he studied for The Children of the Dream.) ‘Reflections on American Identity’, read together with ...

Thinking the unthinkable

John Naughton, 4 September 1980

... Choice, films like The Night Porter, and in the writings of Hannah Arendt, George Steiner, Bruno Bettelheim and a host of others. But on the subject of the nuclear holocaust there is a deafening silence. It is as if, somehow, the entire topic had been declared out of bounds, as if it were ‘unthinkable’. Such a state of affairs is profoundly ...

Keeping the show on the road

John Kerrigan, 6 November 1986

Tribute to Freud 
by H. D.
Carcanet, 194 pp., £5.95, August 1985, 0 85635 599 2
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In Dora’s Case: Freud, Hysteria, Feminism 
edited by Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane.
Virago, 291 pp., £11.95, October 1985, 0 86068 712 0
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The Essentials of Psychoanalysis 
by Sigmund Freud, edited by Anna Freud.
Hogarth/Institute of Psychoanalysis, 595 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 7012 0720 5
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Freud and the Humanities 
edited by Peregrine Horden.
Duckworth, 186 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 7156 1983 7
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Freud for Historians 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 252 pp., £16.50, January 1986, 0 19 503586 0
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The Psychoanalytic Movement 
by Ernest Gellner.
Paladin, 241 pp., £3.50, May 1985, 0 586 08436 3
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The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art 
by Leo Bersani.
Columbia, 126 pp., $17.50, April 1986, 0 231 06218 4
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... Freud humane will be displeased. It’s not just a matter of the material chosen. As Philip Rieff, Bruno Bettelheim and others have complained, the Standard Edition’s prickly jargon – its ego and id for das Ich and das Es, its ‘cathexis’ and ‘scopophilia’ – removes psychoanalysis from the Geisteswissenschaften. Yet Strachey’s translation ...

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