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O'Shaughnessy, E. (1987). Melanie Klein. Her World and her Work: By Phyllis Grosskurth. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1986. Pp. 515.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 14:132-136.

(1987). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 14:132-136

Melanie Klein. Her World and her Work: By Phyllis Grosskurth. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1986. Pp. 515.

Review by:
Edna O'Shaughnessy

Much hard work was done for this biography, the first written about Melanie Klein. Phyllis Grosskurth consulted many documents and letters (even tracing a lost collection), conducted many interviews (some of people traced down resourcefully), and made herself acquainted with much psychoanalytic theory. She has a narrative gift, and like the experienced biographer that she is, she has organized a mass of material into easy and vivid readability. It is all the more to be regretted, therefore, that what must be the pivot of any biography, the author's relation to his or her subject, has gone awry more often than it has stayed right.

The reader is likely to be made uneasy on the first page:

Melanie Klein was a woman with a mission. From the moment she read Freud's paper On Dreams (1901) in 1914 she was enraptured, converted, and dedicated to psychoanalysis. Captivated by the concept of the unconscious, she followed its seductive lure …

This is language for religion and erotic infatuation and it sets a style the author will use on and off throughout the book in which psychoanalysts, the pursuit of psychoanalysis, and psycholoanalytical issues are made sensational, psychologized, or politicized, to the extent that the author at times comes dangerously near to losing sight of whom and of what she is writing about.


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