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Meltzer, D. (1972). The Savage God: By A. Alvarez. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 1971.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:425-426.

(1972). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 53:425-426

The Savage God: By A. Alvarez. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. 1971.

Review by:
Donald Meltzer

There is good reason to think that psychoanalytic thought has not as yet been able to distinguish clearly between mental states of flux in the service of development and states of turmoil in the process of regression. The two areas of work, with adolescents and with artists, which most tax the analyst's ability to make this differentiation are noteworthy for their poor clinical results. In consequence, psychoanalysis tends to have a poorer reputation than it could deserve among these potential patients and friends.

This passionate and beautifully written book by A. Alvarez, The Savage God, by approaching the problem of suicide from a highly personal and at once deeply artistic viewpoint, brings to view the nature of the conflict involved in creative work in a manner that makes clear the essential danger to the mind of the artist. In this danger, in the internal atmosphere it creates, the artist makes contact with his source of inspiration. The body of the book, enfolded as it is between a prologue about Sylvia Plath and an epilogue about the author's own 'failed' suicide, is both historical and literary. The history of social attitudes towards suicide and a review of modern theories on the subject are used to construct a view of the artist, and of the creative aspect of man in general, caught between the solipsistic loneliness of self and the the helplessness to benefit the others. In this crossfire of mental pain, as Alvarez sees it, the 'logic of suicide' arises (p.

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