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Beres, D. (1971). The Letters of John Addington Symonds: Edited by Herbert M. Schueller and Robert L. Peters. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. Vol. I (1844-1868), 1967, 867 pp.; Vol. II (1869-1884), 1968, 1011 pp.; Vol. III (1885-1893), 1969, 931 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 40:151-153.

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(1971). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 40:151-153

The Letters of John Addington Symonds: Edited by Herbert M. Schueller and Robert L. Peters. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. Vol. I (1844-1868), 1967, 867 pp.; Vol. II (1869-1884), 1968, 1011 pp.; Vol. III (1885-1893), 1969, 931 pp.

David Beres Author Information

These three massive volumes comprise a collection of more than two thousand letters of John Addington Symonds who is described by the editors as a 'Victorian historian, poet, translator and essayist'. The history of English literature has relegated Symonds to a secondary position, almost to oblivion, but his personal life which involved a hopeless struggle with homosexuality and physical illness will arouse the interest of the psychoanalyst.

Symonds's homosexuality was marked by conflict and depression. The conflict is expressed in his letters by a never-ending search for the love of men and his idealization of the beauty and strength of youth. It appears in a derivative form in his study of ancient Greek 'friendship', in his privately published studies on homosexuality, and in his fruitless efforts to modify British laws affecting homosexuals. The conviction and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde marked his failure in the latter direction.

The editors introduce the first volume with an illuminating biographical essay. They describe Symonds as burdened with a 'traumatic homosexual drive intensified by an exaggerated moral idealism'. They write: 'His social philosophy combined both his sexual drives with a breadth of liberal thought which crossed classes and

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