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Grotstein, J.S. (1990). A Dictionary of Kleinian Thought by R. D. Hinshelwood London: Free Association Books, 1989, 482 pp., $47.00. Psa. Books, 1(4):464-471.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Books, 1(4):464-471

A Dictionary of Kleinian Thought by R. D. Hinshelwood London: Free Association Books, 1989, 482 pp., $47.00

Review by:
James S. Grotstein, M.D.

Hinshelwood's Dictionary, like all dictionaries, attempts to circumscribe and define a particular domain of interest and then specify and individualize the principal component entities in that domain. A dictionary succeeds when the reader can consult it without disappointment and leave with an unexpected expansion of knowledge. By this and other criteria, the Dictionary succeeds admirably.

The work is organized into two main sections, the first, “Main Entries,” explicating the most important and most basic Kleinian ideas (13 in number), and the second, “General Entries,” detailing 143 random entries about important but less critical items. Each entry is organized in turn into the item or thought itself; a complete chronology and history of the development of the specific thought; the individual components of the thought; a plethora of invaluable cross-references to related concepts detailed in other parts of the work; a comparison, when possible, with equivalent thoughts from other schools; and, finally, the relevant bibliography for the item. Hinshelwood ends the book with an extensive and virtually complete bibliography of the works of Klein and of Kleinian authors generally. One of the most interesting results of this method of explication is the emergence of a gratifyingly holographic view of Kleinian thought. It is as if each entry were a recapitulation of the whole, but from a different perspective each time.

The work is characterized by an eminently readable style. Most Kleinian authors, and I include myself among them, seem to write in a recondite jargonistic manner that too often is exclusionary or alienating, inspires envy or contempt, and undermines credibility. This work is a notable exception.

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