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Cox, M. (1984). Psychoanalytic Theory of Art: A Philosophy of Art on Developmental Principles: By Richard Kuhns. New York: Columbia University Press. 1983. Pp. 169.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 11:498-499.

(1984). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 11:498-499

Psychoanalytic Theory of Art: A Philosophy of Art on Developmental Principles: By Richard Kuhns. New York: Columbia University Press. 1983. Pp. 169.

Review by:
Murray Cox

The dust cover of this well produced book tells us that: 'The contributions of Kris, Hartmann, Anna Freud, Kernberg and Winnicott strengthen the theory in its interpretation of cultural objects and the tradition all peoples possess through their art. Examples from Shakespeare, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and others are analyzed to demonstrate the ways in which psychoanalytic theory establishes a foundation for the development of the human sciences.' It describes the authors as Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, and author of The House, the City, and the Judge; Structures of Experience ; and many articles in aesthetics, art history, and the philosophy of art.

Though it is not an easy book to review, it is easy to recommend as a book to be read. This comment is testimony to the closely argued and lucid account given to complex themes which call for an interweaving of panoramic surveys and detailed close-ups. In addition to erudition, the author also has the gift of writing language which is at once crystal clear and at the same time sensitive and finely balanced.

The following passages illustrate this capacity which permeates the book:

The risk of being exposed to forced disclosure itself becomes part of the ground for the creation of enactments, since they subtly represent delicate matters requiring hiddenness, and are able to disclose the otherwise inexpressible. Enactments are themselves both communicating and non-communicating objects.

As the residues of celebration, as the vessels of belief, and as the fastenings for traditions, enactments have become the only objects our culture recognizes as constituting a tradition; the wisdom of these creations may be the last kind of sustained deliverance we possess.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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