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Greenson, R.R. (1943). Flight from Home: Frederick Rosenheim. Amer. Imago, I, 1940, pp. 1–30.. Psychoanal Q., 12:154.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Flight from Home: Frederick Rosenheim. Amer. Imago, I, 1940, pp. 1–30.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:154

Flight from Home: Frederick Rosenheim. Amer. Imago, I, 1940, pp. 1–30.

Ralph R. Greenson

On the basis of fragments of his life history and of his books, Mardi, and Redburn, Rosenheim attempts to shed some light on Melville's deeper psychology. Only his early career is considered, up to the age of 32, before he wrote Moby Dick. Melville was the second eldest son in a family of eight children. After his father's death, when Melville was fifteen, the eldest son assumed the support of the entire family. The seventeen-year-old Melville shipped as a common sailor for Liverpool, in what Rosenheim designates as his first flight from home. Returning, Melville made a second unsuccessful attempt to adjust, followed by a second flight from home, a four year sailing voyage on a whaler, later to provide him with the background for the majority of his stories.

In his book, Mardi, especially prominent are the themes of fleeing and being pursued, strong father-figures in various rôles, striking eating orgies and cannibalistic fantasies. On the basis of this material Rosenheim attributes Melville's second flight from home to his dread of retribution, his guilt and his fear of punishment for his father's death. Melville opposes his anxiety with a reckless assault upon the world and overly brave facing of its worst terrors, with gratifications on a cannibalistic level.

For the most part, Rosenheim's interpretations are carefully drawn and conservative. It is regrettable that there are so few historical data and no bibliography.

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Article Citation

Greenson, R.R. (1943). Flight from Home. Psychoanal. Q., 12:154

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