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Simon, B. (1980). Dreams in Greek Tragedy. An Ethno-Psycho-Analytical Study: By George Devereux. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976. 365 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 49:150-155.

(1980). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 49:150-155

Dreams in Greek Tragedy. An Ethno-Psycho-Analytical Study: By George Devereux. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976. 365 pp.

Review by:
Bennett Simon

This important book attempts to demonstrate the psychological credibility of the dreams found within the extant Greek tragedies. The model for Devereux's approach is Freud's Delusions and Dreams in Jensen's Gradiva, in which Freud scrutinizes the dreams of Norbert Hanold, the fictional archeologist in search of a beautiful, elusive woman he has seen on a sculpture from antiquity. Such a study, the author argues, is meaningful only if psychoanalytic methods are applied "as if" the fictional personage's dream were that of a living person. Further, the analysis must preserve the status of the work as a work of art, that is, analysis must broaden and deepen our understanding of the text that contains a dream narrative. The book is subtitled An Ethno-Psycho-Analytical Study, for the author, a psychoanalyst as well as a distinguished anthropologist, assumes that "great art is located at the confluence of culturally imposed artistic means and objectives and a subjectively determined psychological realism" (p. xi); he is able to combine the culturally bound view of what is tragic with a more universal, psychoanalytically derived, notion of tragedy.

Devereux

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