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Macdiarmid, D. (1976). EISENSTEIN, SAMUEL A. Boarding the ship of death. The Hague and Paris, Mouton, 1974, pp. 171. Dutch Guilders 24.. J. Anal. Psychol., 21(2):233.

(1976). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 21(2):233

EISENSTEIN, SAMUEL A. Boarding the ship of death. The Hague and Paris, Mouton, 1974, pp. 171. Dutch Guilders 24.

Review by:
D. Macdiarmid

A foreword by a Jungian analyst William Alex, M.D., outlining his ideas on ‘the role of the hero in the growth of individual and group consciousness’ as applied distinctively to men and to women introduces this book, which is an account of the development of the hero theme in a progressive series of works of D. H. Lawrence, from The white peacock to The ship of death.

The author begins with a presentation of Lawrence's very interesting criticism of Thomas Hardy: that the tragic heroes and heroines of Hardy's novels were not really victims of ineluctable Fate or some ‘President of the Immortals’ but of their fellow mortals, of society; and that the individual can win and should fight to win. He goes on to show how a series of Lawrence's own characters represent phases of the hero in struggle, failure or success, first in an early phase in which the characters strive to expand into the world and find freedom, then a phase of commitment to a direction, then a phase of fulfilment. They progress from the feeble strugglers of The white peacock and the suicide Siegmund of The trespasser, destroyed in the duel with Woman, through Alvina of The lost girl who creatively and painfully encounters the dark primitive hero Ciccio, through Aaron of Aaron's rod, who, freed from the chthonic woman, goes on quest and Lovat Somers of Kangaroo, who further frees himself from the power of the ‘Male Messiah’ and of the physical environment, to the heroine of The woman who rode away who accepted her sacrificial death, Jesus of The Man Who Died who completed himself to prepare for death and finally the death/rebirth theme of The ship of death.

The book is written with enthusiasm and knowledge, but the works described are less popular ones and if one does not know them well it is difficult sometimes to distinguish between paraphrase, interpretation and the author's own views. I rather regretted the author's decision to ‘relinquish biography as a crutch’; to dissect out yet a new presentation of the archetype as he has done is interesting, but to relate an artist's vision to his life, like a man's dreams to the man himself, can be fascinating.

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