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Brink, L. (1915). Love and The Soul-Maker. By Mary E. Austin. D. Appleton & Co., New York.. Psychoanal. Rev., 2(2):233-235.

(1915). Psychoanalytic Review, 2(2):233-235

Book Reviews

Love and The Soul-Maker. By Mary E. Austin. D. Appleton & Co., New York.

Review by:
L. Brink

This remarkable volume reveals a clear and unfaltering vision into the true nature of sex-love and its place in our lives. For this reason it presents sound and workable theories and suggestions for the true valuing of love and the better adjustment of all its relations. Love is the full and deep current underneath all life, which completes and justifies itself only as it fulfills the purpose of racial development.

Mrs. Austin treats her subject with a sincere and delicate candor. The setting of the discussion in the form of a personal talk with a friend, heartsick because of her failure in her experiment with mate-love, gives the book a particularly human touch, which detracts nothing from its power. Frequent pauses in the discussion are full of the beauties of nature about the two as they talk, nature vibrant with that harmony that awakened love in primitive man, as in all the world, and that swells through the progress of the race, into which love pours its creative power.

Though all nature inspires her creatures to the crisis of love, setting in motion the whole mechanism, the end and fulness of love are not in the passion nor yet in procreation. Back even among beasts the mate is chosen long before the time of begetting and is cherished for more reasons than mere gratification. Anthropology would hardly seem to confirm the author's statement that with primitive man his sex encounters could be numbered by his offspring; all his symbolic acts and ceremonial provisions are too full of concrete sexuality, but already in these remote ages there is discoverable the presence of those psychic reactions which must surround all sex-love, forming it and resulting from it.

Studies into the meaning of religious exercises and symbols among early races, as well as in the storehouse of the unconscious, would rather reverse the author's theory of what she calls the worshipful use of sex-love. In the periods of license and excess, she conceives of sex as put to the highest plane of usefulness, a concomitant and expression of religion, rather than of religion as an outgrowth and sublimation of sexuality. Her attitude is somewhat rationalistic. The Soul-Maker stands beyond, an extraneous goal. She wonders if “the perception of Unrealized Good—the base of all religion—is not the root and stock of sex, and love and art are sprung out of it.”

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