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Brierley, M. (1946). The Feminine Character: History of an Ideology: By Viola Klein. (Int. Library of Sociology and Social Reconstruction, London, Kegan Paul, 1946. Pp. xv and 228. Price 12 s. 6 d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 27:165-166.

(1946). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 27:165-166

The Feminine Character: History of an Ideology: By Viola Klein. (Int. Library of Sociology and Social Reconstruction, London, Kegan Paul, 1946. Pp. xv and 228. Price 12 s. 6 d.)

Review by:
Marjorie Brierley

This book is a revised edition of a London Ph.D. thesis. In a foreword, Karl Mannheim describes it as an experiment in his new pattern of 'Integrating Research'. The author explains the method in an Introduction. She begins with a short account of the changes in the position of women since the Industrial Revolution and follows this up with a series of chapters discussing the views arrived at by representatives of different approaches to the study of womanhood during this period. Biology is represented by Havelock Ellis, philosophy by Otto Weiniger, psycho-analysis by Sigmund Freud, experimental psychology by Helen Thompson, psychometric tests by Terman and Miles, history by the Vaertings, anthropology by Margaret Mead and sociology by W. I. Thomas. The last chapter is devoted to 'Summary and Conclusions'. There is an Appendix illustrating the changes in subjective attitude towards femininity as depicted in a three-generation novel and the book closes with a full, though not exhaustive, Bibliography, an Index of Names and a Subject Index.

The aim of the book is to clarify the conception of femininity by examining it in a number of different 'perspectives'. The author is far too intelligent to attempt any premature or would-be final definition of feminine character and the gist of her conclusions may be given in her own words: 'The impression one gains from this variety of descriptions is definite only on one point: namely, the existence of a concept of femininity as the embodiment of certain distinctive psychological traits.

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