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Engle, B. (1954). The Muse at Length. A Psychoanalytic Study of the Odyssey: By Arthur Wormhoudt, Ph.D. Boston: The Christopher Publishing House, 1953. 159 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 23:456-457.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:456-457

The Muse at Length. A Psychoanalytic Study of the Odyssey: By Arthur Wormhoudt, Ph.D. Boston: The Christopher Publishing House, 1953. 159 pp.

Review by:
Bernice Engle

In his analytic studies of the Odyssey, the Oedipus plays, and the Agamemnon plays, Professor Wormhoudt follows Bergler's analysis of the writer as a masochistic character. He considers Homer such a character, for whom writing the Odyssey was an attempt at self-cure. The ways by which self-cure occurs and their relationship to the artist's life are not explained. The problem was to depict a hero whose self-destructive tendencies could be expiated so that they should not cause the hero's death; and the task of both Homer and his hero Odysseus was, in the author's opinion, to free themselves from intense masochism. He describes the masochistic strivings for self-injury in the various characters and their guilt about their masochism. Many instances of Oedipal and inverse Oedipal situations are also noted.

Professor Wormhoudt evidently believes that these interpretations of unconscious conflicts and symbolisms increase the understanding of the reader, who in turn gains the same sort of self-healing as did the artist in creating the work. The author implies that the analyses also produce æsthetic understanding, and he claims that direct evaluations of the æsthetic or moral values of a work describe the preferences of the critic rather than the work itself.

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