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Tip: To use Pocket to save bookmarks to PEP-Web articles…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Pocket (formerly “Read-it-later”) is an excellent third-party plugin to browsers for saving bookmarks to PEP-Web pages, and categorizing them with tags.

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Meyer, B.C. (1970). Great Abnormals. The Pathological Genius of Kafka, Van Gogh, Strindberg, and Poe: By Vernon W. Grant, Ph.D. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1968. 248 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 39:493-495.
    

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:493-495

Great Abnormals. The Pathological Genius of Kafka, Van Gogh, Strindberg, and Poe: By Vernon W. Grant, Ph.D. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1968. 248 pp.

Review by:
Bernard C. Meyer

Despite the assertion on the book jacket that this study will contribute to a deeper understanding of the nature of artistic genius, the reader need go no further than the title and subtitle to entertain serious doubts that this expectation will be fulfilled. The verbal composition of these titles has an archaic quality, more appropriate to a time when such definitions of mental illness and aberration were promoted with a greater degree of boldness and abandon than is now consistent with contemporary psychiatric knowledge and sophistication. We can no longer employ the word abnormal as a noun—save perhaps in quotes—nor can we speak glibly of pathological genius, as if, like mushrooms, there were also a healthy variety from which the bad ones are not hard to distinguish. Modern critics too might balk at the application of the term genius to Strindberg. He may be Sweden's greatest playwright, as Grant asserts, although today some find him clinical and dull; to others he seems as dated and old hat as last year's weather. (To paraphrase a quip directed at Victor Hugo, it might be more correct to speak of Strindberg as 'Sweden's greatest playwright, alas!').

Thus even before glancing at the first page the reader may justly suspect that here is a musty, dusty book, a literary anachronism, that has successfully evaded both the freshness of modern æsthetic values and the rich and valid insights of contemporary psychology.

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