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Sachs, H. (1920). The Erotic Motive in Literature: By Albert Mordell, (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co. Ltd., London, 1919. Pp. 250. Price 10s.).. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:477-478.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:477-478

The Erotic Motive in Literature: By Albert Mordell, (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co. Ltd., London, 1919. Pp. 250. Price 10s.).

Review by:
Hanns Sachs

The book gives more to the reader than the title seems to promise, at least in one respect: it does not content itself with following up the use made of erotic motives in literature, but points out their existence even there where they do not come to the surface—in short, the book has been written entirely from a psycho-analytical point of view.

The author consequently resorts to the means so successfully employed by Freud in his "Traumdeutung", in order to demonstrate the unconscious contents of artistically formed fantasies. By this course he arrives at a principle of the utmost importance, the strict determination of poetic production. He maintains his points by referring to material which is rich, well chosen and thoroughly mastered; he proves that even scientific works such as Renan's "Life of Jesus" as well as the original, apparently arbitrary and fantastical works of E. A. Poe are nothing else but the strict consequence of the author's disposition to certain impulses and experiences.

In one respect this meritorious book cannot be wholly absolved from the reproach of contradiction. Although the author theoretically keeps strictly to Freud's point of view, that the impressions of childhood, especially those connected with the (Edipus Complex, are decisive for the fancies underlying and determining the later erotic life, he shifts in his detailed researches the chief accent on to the actual erotic experiences of the adult. And yet it is the intrinsic psycho-literary work of the psycho-analyst to make the actual erotic life the stepping-stone to the recovering of the impressions of childhood.

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