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Roughton, R.E. (1989). The Whole Journey. Shakespeare's Power of Development: By C. L. Barber and Richard P. Wheeler. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. 354 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:308-312.
(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:308-312
The Whole Journey. Shakespeare's Power of Development: By C. L. Barber and Richard P. Wheeler. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. 354 pp.
Review by: Ralph E. Roughton
Two recent books in the undiminishing industry of Shakespeare criticism signal a new level in the evolution of psychoanalytic interpretation—new in the sense that they examine the works of one another in chronological order from a developmental perspective, tracing patterns of growth in the canon analogous to those in the psychological development of individuals.
In the earlier work, Thomas MacCary compared the early and mature comedies and the late romances along a line of developing narcissistic desire and indentity formation: a progression from early to later plays in which young men first seek narcissistic identity in the mirror images of themselves in twins or friends, then find their desire for women in those disguised as young men in comedies of mis-identification; young women are then sought as separate objects of desire in their own right; and, finally, in the late romances, fathers deal with the problem of relinquishing claim on their young daughters. Although the progression of development in the plays parallels that of human development, MacCary focused on the literary works, not on Shakespeare's life.
In the book under consideration here, Barber and Wheeler sample all of Shakespeare's dramatic forms (comedies, histories, tragedies, romances), as well as the sonnets, and attempt to place them on a progressive continuum in their study of his literary development.
To refer to this book as "their study," however, is misleading. The book is the work of both Barber and Wheeler, but circumstances prevented their active collaboration.
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