By Richard Wollheim. New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1971. 292 pp.
WILHELM REICH. By Charles Rycroft. New York: The Viking Press, Inc., 1972. 115 pp.
These two books are components of a series of books called Modern Masters. The editor writes, 'By Modern Masters we mean the men who have changed and are changing the life and thought of our age. The authors of these volumes are themselves masters, and they have writen their books in the belief that general discussion of their subjects will henceforth be more informed and more exciting than ever before.' The 'Modern Masters' already published are Albert Camus, Frantz Fanon, Herbert Marcuse, Che Guevara, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Ludwig Wittgenstein, George Lukacs, Noam Chomsky, James Joyce, Marshall McLuhan, George Orwell, William Butler Yeats, and Mohandas Gandhi. Judging from these two books, the authors aim to condense into a single volume both essential biographical information and the central thoughts of each Modern Master. For the psychoanalyst who would like some reasonably reliable, digested information about the life and work of someone outside his field, some of the other volumes in the series might be of interest; but for his own field he can hardly rely on second-hand information. The books on Freud and Reich can offer him mainly a review and an occasional new viewpoint.
Rycroft has the easier task. Reich's main contributions, well known to analysts, are summarized in this short volume. For the rest—what Rycroft calls Reich's 'tormented, persecuted, and futile' life—one might now let him rest in peace. For those whose curiosity impels them to further inquiry, Rycroft offers both additional information and speculation.
Wollheim, a professor of philosophy, has undertaken the far more difficult, if not impossible, task of summarizing the life and work of Sigmund Freud in a single volume. He believes that Freud's views have become obscured and that his evolution as a thinker has not been recognized.
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