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44 REV I EWS 1. Strachey: Victorian-Freudian Martin KaI lieh. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL MILIEU OF LYTTON STRACHEY. NY: Bookman Associates, 1961. 162 pp. $4.00. This account of the work of Lytton Strachey, frankly inferential in large part, relates his psychological insight to the intellectual atmosphere of his time insofar as it was affected and then permanently suffused by the dominating themes of Freudian psychoanalysis. Strachey, according to Mr. KaI lieh, was a rebel, that is, an outspoken critic of Victorian mores, particularly those concerned with sex. He attacked reticence and hypocrisy by displaying the hidden or unconscious motives of behavior and by describing them candidly. Character was never simple, never to be exhausted by a mere enumeration of actions and their apparent causes. He looked below, to the welter of confusing and conflicting traits, to the formative influences which shaped a man at his beginnings. In his last great work, that on Elizabeth, Strachey's views matured under the inspiration of certain Freudian ideas which his brother and his brother's wife introduce to him. Mr. KaI lieh is firmly, and sometimes awkwardly, devoted to the thesis that the new ideas helped to liberate Strachey, along with the rest of the modern world, from the darkness of Victorian complacency. But the relationship between the two worlds is a complex one: in important ways, Freud is a nineteenth-century figure, as surely as Karl Marx. Strachey himself is as complex a pa-son as his Eminent Victorians, a fact which Mr. KaI lieh rather irritably notes when he acknowledges that Strachey was not as consistent as he ought to have been in his analyses (eg, p. 75). Much of the language which Mr. KaI lieh describes as the merely rhetorical expression of what are really Freudian concepts is not as new or unusual or even so un-Victorian as Mr. KaI lieh thinks it. Of Strachey's treatment of General Gordon, he says, in a fair example of his method: "After examining the records of Gordon's history, Strachey rejects this crude [Victorian] stereotype. Instead, he sees Gordon as an eccentric adventurer in 'a vision of strange characters moved by mysterious impulses, interacting in queer complication.' However, as we shall see, these mysterious impulses, if somewhat more complicated than the simple motivation accepted by the general public, are not incapable of some explanation. We must not be deceived by Strachey's obfuscating rhetoric. Gordon, that is to say, was afflicted with a divided personality..." (p. 66). Those 'mysterious impulses' which interest Strachey were interesting also to Samuel Butler: "We know so well what we are doing ourselves and why we do it, do we not: i fancy that there is some truth in the view which is being put forward nowadays, that it is our less conscious thoughts and our less conscious actions which mainly mould our lives and the lives of those who spring from us." (THE WAY OF ALL FLESH, Chapter 5.) The 'view' Butler speaks of 45 was widespread in the late nineteenth century. To what degree it derives from Freud and to what degree Freud shares it with others remains a question. If these remarks seem argumentative, they may be influenced by the somewhat polemical character of Mr. Kallich's book itself, which makes its own opportunities, both in the first and last parts, to criticize previous work on Strachey. For all that, Mr. KaI I ich makes his point well, perhaps too well, that Strachey's "presentation of the vagaries of personality approaches the psychoanalytical" (p. 63). University of California, Davis — T. A. Hanzo 2. Vi. B. Yeats: The Pictorial Arts and "Generic Tragedy" in His Work D. J. Gordon, with Contributions by Ian Fletcher, Frank Kermode, and Robin Skelton. Vi. B. YEATS: IMAGES OF A POET. NY: Barnes 6· Noble, 1961. $3.50. B. L. fteid. WILLIAM BUTLER YEARS: THE LYRIC OF TRAGEDY. Norman: University of Oklahoma P, I96I. $4.50. Everyone knows or else should know that the best books about Yeats are those he wrote: the autobiographies, the critical essays, A VISION—his effort to "explain" history and personality—and the original editions of the poetry and drama with all the accompanying...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 44-45
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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