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Kohon, G. (1985). Lou Andreas-Salomé: By Angela Livingstone. London: Gordon Fraser. 1984. Pp. 256.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 12:494-497.

(1985). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 12:494-497

Lou Andreas-Salomé: By Angela Livingstone. London: Gordon Fraser. 1984. Pp. 256.

Review by:
Gregorio Kohon

Biographies do not always teach us much about the subject but they usually tell us something about the act of writing and its counterpart, the act of reading. We find in them the wish to know and find out the truth about an idealized character, a mixture of admiration and narcissistic identification with the hero, together with the intention of bringing him down, nearer to our own faults and weaknesses. The biographer and the reader, in their complicity, enthrone and murder the hero in one blow. Angela Livingstone's book has successfully negotiated the ambivalence implicit in her task. There have been other biographical references to Lou Andreas-Salomé (most notably My Sister, My Spouse, by H. F. Peters, and her own memoir, Lebensrückblick) but the book under review is a welcome contribution.

Ms Livingstone, who is Director of the Centre for Russian and Soviet Studies and Reader at Essex University, has had access to unpublished sources (mainly provided by Dr Ernst Pfeiffer, 'last friend and confidant' of Lou Andreas-Salomé, and 'faithful keeper of her "Nachlass"'). She had the opportunity of talking personally to Pfeiffer in several visits to Göttingen, carrying out new research in Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and Germany. Her book is intended to show the direct link between the three topics Lou Andreas-Salomé wrote most about: religion, sex, and psychoanalysis, and the subject's own life experiences. This, without doubt, was no easy task.

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