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Stein, R.M. (1992). KERENYI, K. and HILIMAN, J. Oedipus Variations: Studies in Literature and Psychoanalysis. Dallas, Spring Publications, 1991. Pbk. $14.50.. J. Anal. Psychol., 37(3):375-379.

(1992). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 37(3):375-379

KERENYI, K. and HILIMAN, J. Oedipus Variations: Studies in Literature and Psychoanalysis. Dallas, Spring Publications, 1991. Pbk. $14.50.

Review by:
Robert M. Stein

Edited by:
Coline Covington and Ron Jalbert

This valuable little book is composed of two essays (translated into English for the first time) by Karl Kerenyi and an essay by James Hillman, ‘Oedipus revisited’, first composed and delivered as a lecture at the Eranos Conference, Ascona, Switzerland, 1987. These complex essays are so dense with knowledge and ideas that I feel the essence can best be gleaned by some carefully chosen selections rather than an abstract.

Oedipus: Two Essays by Karl Kerenyi

After a careful re-examination of the Oedipus myth, Kerenyi widens the cultural context of this basic myth of psychoanalysis by comparing the dramatic version of Sophocles with those of a variety of authors from ancient to modern times. I have always appreciated the richness of Karl Kerenyi's profound knowledge and poetic renderings of the Greek myths, even though I usually find his writing difficult to decipher. Because the incest mystery and the Oedipus myth has been a major interest of mine, I was pleased to be invited to do this review. In these essays, Kerenyi presents some important new material, but space allows for only a brief sampling.

In his exploration of the myth he says ‘that it seems as if Jocasta was the source of the royal power in Thebes, for in this city royal power corresponds to matrilinear relationships’ (p. 7). And, in linking Oedipus (‘swellfoot’) to the phallic Dactyls, sons of the Great Mother, he notes that, according to Hesiod, not once did she shy away from incest.

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