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Freedman, P.M. (2005). Gustav Mahler: A life in crisis Stuart Feder New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2004. 315 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(6):1744-1747.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(6):1744-1747

Gustav Mahler: A life in crisis Stuart Feder New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 2004. 315 pp.

Review by:
Penny M. Freedman

This book is a biographical study of one of the 20th century's great composers, written by a musically informed psychoanalyst. As such, its authorship poses a few challenges which might have undermined the work of a less scholarly or meticulous writer.

A wish, for example, to capture or ‘explain’ the essence of artistic genius or creation psychoanalytically might have lured any one of us into a postmortem psychoanalysis of the composer. Few, if any, of these efforts succeed and, worse, they often trivialize the person and work of the artist. In the end, that which is essential to the creation of a masterpiece cannot be analyzed and so it seems wiser not to try. It is also a thankless task to write about music.

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