The Inner World and Joan Riviere. Collected Papers 1920-1958. Edited by Athol Hughes. Karnac. £18.95. Pp. 392.
Review by: Nollaig Drake
Joan Riviere was a colleague, friend, and supporter of Melanie Klein, as well as being an analysand and renowned translator of Freud's writings. She was thus uniquely qualified for her task of showing the links between Freud's work and the discoveries being made by Klein. She is less well known for her own original contributions to the psychoanalytic literature.
This volume is an attempt to bridge that gap in our knowledge of her work. It is the first edition of Riviere's collected papers and it aims to present her own work in a systematic way. The book is organised partly on a chronological basis, and in part according to the subject matter. A glance at the table of contents allows us some insight into Riviere's key areas of interest and activity, and the reader will be struck by her expansive engagement with both Freud's and Klein's ideas and life, throughout her own personal and professional development
The book opens with a lively foreword by Hanna Segal, who was supervised in her analytic training by Joan Riviere. Segal gives a rich personal account of her contact with Riviere, whom she says ‘made the greatest impression on me in my formative years as a psychoanalyst.’ Segal concludes that Riviere was ‘an important original thinker’ and that ‘many psychoanalysts working today have no idea of the debt they owe to her contribution.’
Athol Hughes, who has edited this volume, introduces us to Riviere in a fascinating biographical essay. From this point onwards, the reader is drawn with interest and enthusiasm to follow the details of Riviere's papers as they unfold and to see the development in her thinking, and her capacity to integrate ideas.
The chapters which follow are each given a brief introduction by Hughes which very helpfully places the paper in the context, not only of Riviere's own development, but in the wider world of psychoanalytic thought. As such, the introductions provide the reader with a means of orienting himself, and they help to integrate what might otherwise seem like a mixed bag of papers.
I particularly recommend four major papers in this volume which exemplify Riviere's creativity and originality.
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