Surviving Trauma: Loss and Literature

David Aberbach, Author Yale University Press $35 (192p) ISBN 978-0-300-04557-4
Ranging over Western literature, Aberbach, professor at McGill University, examines the experience of grief as a wellspring of creativity. Dense with illustrative excerpts from poems, stories and essays, the study, led off by a consideration of reflections by Holocaust survivors, looks at works of writers, such as Walt Whitman, D. H. Lawrence, Dante, Descartes and Cocteau, for whom loss of a parent figures centrally in their oeuvre. With the view that art, like dreams, expresses the imagination's attempt to ``confront and master grief,'' Aberbach demonstrates persuasively that a writer's involvement with his or her work can be an effort to reestablish psychically a union severed by death. Also explored are pathological expressions of grief as found in the writings of Tolstoy and Poe, and loss as the driving force behind the careers of such nonliterary personalities as Marilyn Monroe, Hitler and Churchill. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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