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sky's writings: suicide as a structural determinant influencing plot development; and suicide as a symptom ofmoral bankruptcyand isolation ofcharacter arising outof the loss offaith - in God, immortality of the soul, the Russian soil- and from the vain attempts to fill the resulting spiritual vacuum with obsessive ideological substitutes. These are familiar thoughts in the Dostoevsky who returned from his Siberian exile anxious to put his life together again. But it is to Shneidman's credit that he is well aware of the disparity between Dostoevsky's theoretical notions and his artistic vision, which is always more psychological and intuitive, more complex and more ambiguous than mere intellectual formulation would allow. The result is a lucid, matter-of-fact analysis of character providing a deeper sense of what is involved in the process of suicide. For my part, the study raises a question which may indeed fuel, rather than detract from, usefui potential discussion: Shneidman's belief that 'the weak "faint hearted" dreamer depicted in the pages of Dostoevsky's early prose, is replaced by a strong (if negative) and determined character' (p 32) in Dostoevsky's later and more mature work. This statement is qualified on a number of occasions - thus Shneidman sees Raskolnikov and Svidrigaylov as both strong and weak characters (pp 38, 44) - but it is difficult to agree with him that in Stavrogin, for example, we have a 'man of great strength' (p 64), 'one of those natures that know nothing of fear: and full of 'inner strength' (p 65), when in actual fact Stavrogin is a coward and a weakling and is so recognized and portrayed by Dostoevsky . This in turn raises the question whether Dostoevsky's demonic characters commit suicide out of strength or weakness. These observations, however, are not meant to take anything away from Shneidman's overall psychological analysis oftextorfrom the quality and the enormous amount of work which has been compressed into this study. (c.v. PONOMAREFF) Elliott B. Gose, Jr. The World of the Irish Wonder Tale University of Toronto Press. xxiv, 228. $30.00, $12.95 paper Elliott Gose presents in this study an 'introductory and personal' work. His subject is the stories of adventure and magic that can also be called fairy tales (although fairies are not always present) and that are Irish versions oHolk tales mostfamiliar, perhaps, in the German forms collected by the Grimm brothers. The book is 'personal' because of the author's confessed admiration for what are, indeed, remarkable and relatively little known stories; it is 'introductory' in its pedagogic strategy of presenting ways in which the tales can be read and understood, among them anthropological, structural, and especially psychoanalytical, both Freudian and Jungian. HUMANITIES 145 The subtitle, 'an introduction to the study of fairy tales,' intimates the method; it also suggests that the approaches Gose uses to the Irish tales can validly be made to all folk tales, and to demonstrate this he includes analyses of Tsinlshian, Egyptian, and English tales. The value of comparative studies is obvious; not so clear, however, is what such a procedure enables the reader to learn about the ostensible focus of the book, the 'world' of the Irish stories. Rather, our own modern world and ' some of its concerns come disconcertingly to the fore when we read that the inlportance of the tales lies in their'compensatory function' in whiclt the narrative'offers a symbolic movement towards psychic integration: a movement in which 'the use of violence makes less likely the hero's spiritual advancement.' Not only the hero but also the reader can become a 'fuller person' through the narrative process, and 'relevance' (approvingly cited by both the author and the publisher) is apparently achieved through jargon: ' the nuclear-family situation of giant, mother, and son' in one tale; in another, the hero's 'falling in love ..., marrying ..., and fathering a child [that] put [him] back in touch with the feeling and relating side of his nature: Despite the author's claim to be concerned with the literary values of the tales, he seems, on the contrary, determined to convince the reader that the worth of the stories is in their usefulness, in their doing us...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 144-145
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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