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Blank, H.R. (1973). Gauguin's Paradise Lost: By Wayne Andersen with the assistance of Barbara Klein. New York: The Viking Press, 1971. 371 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 42:155-155.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:155-155

Gauguin's Paradise Lost: By Wayne Andersen with the assistance of Barbara Klein. New York: The Viking Press, 1971. 371 pp.

Review by:
H. Robert Blank

Gauguin's life has as much claim to psychoanalytic interest as that of any other great artist, yet he has received relatively scant attention in the psychoanalytic literature. For example, he is not mentioned in the subject index of Grinstein's Index of Psychoanalytic Writings, whereas there are five listings under van Gogh. I am therefore especially pleased to report that Andersen, professor of History of Art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has produced an original, beautifully written work of major interest to psychoanalysts. It is a penetrating analysis of the interrelations between Gauguin's life experiences, his severe conscious conflicts, and his artistic creations. The development of the artist's pervasive use of symbolism is strikingly delineated. The persistent romantic myth beclouding Gauguin's life is thoroughly dispelled; Andersen convincingly demonstrates that Gauguin was the creator of this myth. I have no serious fault to find with the author's psychoanalytic insights; his use of their concepts is exemplary.

My only major criticism of the book is artistic. The superb text deserves far better illustrations than the one hundred thirty-eight black and white photographic reproductions bundled together in back of the book. This might not detract too much from the enjoyment of the reader familiar with Gauguin's work; Andersen explicitly assumes such familiarity. I would however recommend the supplementary use of a good set of color reproductions which are readily available for optimal pleasure and instruction.

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