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Milberg-Kaye, R. (1985). Portraits of the Artist, by John E. Gedo, Introduction by Peter Gay. New York: Guilford Press, 1983, 303 pp., $20.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 45(1):95-97.
(1985). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 45(1):95-97
Portraits of the Artist, by John E. Gedo, Introduction by Peter Gay. New York: Guilford Press, 1983, 303 pp., $20.
Review by: Ruth Milberg-Kaye
John Gedo's investigation of the creative spirit as it manifests itself in the lives and works of men of exceptional talent warrants the attention of students of psychoanalysis and of the arts. The reader will be impressed by the author's breadth of scholarship, analytic skills, sensitivity to many fields of creative endeavor, and sympathy with divergent artistic and critical expressions-neither the Apollonian nor the Dionysian is slighted. The book is weighty. Whether Gedo is reviewing the literature on psychobiography or psychohistory, exploring the convoluted relationship of van Gogh and Gaugin, investigating the paranoia of Caravaggio, studying Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Goethe as literary exemplars for Freud, reexamining the Freud/Jung controversy, or discussing the difficulties of being an artist in an age of mass culture, the reader knows that a life has been spent involved with these issues; there are no chapters worked up for the occasion.
Moreover, Portraits of the Artist is very well-written; it is clear, elegant, and on the whole, free from jargon. Gedo has great ability in drawing his material to an effective close; he is a master of summary. One can feel a chapter coming to an end by a sudden intensity in the prose; all the strands of argument, all the discourse, are masterfully woven together.
In spite of the breadth of Gedo's range, however, the strongest parts of the book, certainly the most original, are the chapters which describe what the author has learned from his clinical work with creative people, and Gedo claims that he has had a disproportionately large number of such patients.
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