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Franken, M. (1939). Lawrence, Josephine. Bow Down to Wood and Stone. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. $2.50.. Psychoanal. Rev., 26(2):287-288.

(1939). Psychoanalytic Review, 26(2):287-288

Book Reviews

Lawrence, Josephine. Bow Down to Wood and Stone. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. $2.50.

Review by:
M. Franken

Coupled with penetrating insight and power of imagination, using the power of imagination as it should be used, to vivify characters, Josephine Lawrence tells the story of three righteously “good” women, who spend their lives extracting the last drop of voluptuous gratification out of stewing in their own sacrificial juices. Unlike the biblical offerings, the so-called sacrifices of the three sisters, Seneth, Brosia and Gillian are in the nature of “negotiating a bargain with the Creator” … a kind of trading of minor personal pleasures and conveniences for permission to hold on to childish instincts and fetishes—in most instances a hair shirt of one sort or another.

With the exception perhaps of Gillian, the sisters are types rather than individuals, whose problems and immolations appear horribly familiar and all too true to life. On the other hand, this fitting of characters into stereotyped grooves, gives you the impression that they function as they must, to prove the authors previously established premise, instead of motivating spontaneously as human beings really do.

In the case of Seneth, a widow who has renounced a second marriage “because her children need all her love,” the sacrificial bartering displays itself in sticky, cloying possessive mother love, to be returned by unreasonable, unceasing devotion. Brosia's attitude is equally familiar. Married to a doctor, she dramatizes herself as the ideal wife, ready to sacrifice everything for her husband's career, whether he wants it or not.

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