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Wang, M. (1943). Dark Legend—A Study in Murder: By frederic Wertham. New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, Inc., 1941. 270 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 12:581-583.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:581-583

Dark Legend—A Study in Murder: By frederic Wertham. New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, Inc., 1941. 270 pp.

Review by:
Martin Wang

Although written in fictional form, Dr. Wertham's Dark Legend is not a novel. As stated in the subtitle it is a study in murder, the case history of a boy who killed his mother, and who through the efforts of the author, the psychiatric consultant in the case, was committed to a State institution. After a number of years he was released on parole. The study marks a departure for it is the first time the work of the psychiatrist is brought sharply into focus and explained in terms understandable to the ordinary man.

Briefly it is the story of the son of southern Italian immigrants, who was born in the slums of New York's East Side. His father and mother were hard working people who, by the time Gino was four, and more children had arrived, managed to accumulate enough money to return to their native soil. There in a small village in the south of Italy the boy lived the life of any other child of his age. When he was eleven his father died. Being the oldest son, he tried to run the family bakery and do a man's job. But not many months passed, before an uncle, his father's enemy, openly became his mother's lover. From then on Gino and his brothers and sisters were neglected. They starved, went ragged, and were shunned by their companions. Gino swore vengeance.

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