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Kenrick, J. (1996). Joan Riviere, The Inner World and Joan Riviere: Collected Papers, 1920-1958, ed. Athol Hughes, London: Karnac, 1991. 376 pp. £19.95.. J. Child Psychother., 22(2):299-306.

(1996). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 22(2):299-306

Review Article

Joan Riviere, The Inner World and Joan Riviere: Collected Papers, 1920-1958, ed. Athol Hughes, London: Karnac, 1991. 376 pp. £19.95.

Review by:
Jenny Kenrick

When I was halfway through writing my original review of The Inner World and Joan Riviere: Collected Papers, 1920-1958, I was told there was no urgency to present the review. I then laid it aside for a while. A fatal mistake: a while was too long. However, returning to reread the collected writings and to rethink my task, I have done so with a pleasure enhanced by finding the same enthusiasm for the work that I experienced at the first reading.

Although I had read something of Riviere some years ago, I had failed to appreciate her importance as a clinician and psychoanalytic thinker in her own right. She seemed to stand in the shadow of Melanie Klein. She was one of Klein's earliest contacts in the UK. She wrote to Klein in 1926 to welcome her to London, and Klein kept this letter all her life.

Athol Hughes's excellent introduction and Hannah Segal's foreword serve to bring a substance to Riviere the woman and to her place in the history of psychoanalysis. Segal writes that ‘She was the person who, apart from Melanie Klein, made the greatest impression on me in my formative years as a psycho-analyst.’

Riviere was born in 1883. Her father was a solicitor but the family was not well off. Riviere, in spite of academic connections and undoubted intelligence, did not become one of the early university ‘pioneers’. Instead she went at 17 to Germany for a year and became fluent in the language. She married when she was 23 and, through her husband's connections, became involved with many of the Bloomsbury Group: the Bells, Sickert, Lady Ottoline Morrell. But it was through her own uncle that she met James Strachey and developed an increasing interest in psychoanalysis.

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