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Sherkow, S.P. (1985). Code Name 'Mary': By Muriel Gardiner. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1983. Pp. 179.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 12:116-118.
(1985). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 12:116-118
Code Name 'Mary': By Muriel Gardiner. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1983. Pp. 179.
Review by: Susan P. Sherkow
Muriel Gardiner has written a remarkable and most compelling account of her years in Vienna working with the socialist underground and anti-Nazi resistance movement. While there, as a medical student drawn to psychoanalysis, not politics, she nonetheless courageously followed her deep-seated humanitarian instincts and risked her life time and again to aid the victims of the Fascist onslaught in Austria.
These memoirs, focusing on the years 1934–1939, were prompted by friends and strangers alike who recognized the similarity between Dr Gardiner's own past and the story of 'Julia' described in Lillian Hellman's Pentimento. Dr Gardiner thus took this opportunity to give us her own very personal account of this period in her life. Indeed, in confirmation of the uniqueness of her role, neither the Director of the Documentation Archives of the Austrian Resistance, nor any former resistance workers of whom he inquired, knew of any other American woman who played such a role in Vienna's history.
Dr Gardiner was the youngest daughter of a marriage between branches of two great Chicago meat-packing firms, Swift and Morris Bros. (later Armour). She was raised in luxury. Her upbringing, largely by warm and loving nannies and servants, made her acutely aware of the discrepancy between her family's wealth and that of her caretakers. By the age of 10 she had planned and led a suffragette parade at school.
From her first days at Wellesley College, in 1918, until her arrival in Vienna seven and a half years later, the continuing evolution of her involvement in politics, social justice, and largesse toward the poor and helpless are described. A most poignant moment occurs when she puts her values and idealism to the test by selling precious books in order to support a needy cause.
Dr Gardiner had not foreseen becoming either a physician or a psychoanalyst. Following college and a year of travel abroad, she studied English at Oxford, preparing for a teaching career. Then, curious about analysis, she wrote to Freud asking to begin analysis with him. He referred her to his student, Dr Ruth Mack (later Brunswick). Thus, in 1926, this free-spirited and inquisitive woman set off for Vienna to begin her analysis.
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