21 December 2006

A Primer of Freudian Psychology - Calvin S. Hall 1954

Mentor Books 1954

The fact that this Freudian primer was written over fifty years ago takes nothing away from its worth in introducing the topic. The book starts by placing Freud in historical context, i.e. an era in which science was probing areas previously concealed. The book also links Freud’s psychoanalytic system into discoveries of physical science such as the transferability and non-destructibility of energy.

Starting with an analysis of the id, ego and superego, the book then develops Freud’s key concepts. The author acknowledges that in his long life and mass of writing Freud changed and modified his views. The author, however, attempts to portray Freud in his most developed (i.e. mature) period. The book is about psychoanalysis, but is not medically oriented for those interested in psychotherapy.

The book is written is clear and easy to read English.

4 December 2006

SOROS, Tivadar - Maskerado

Canongate 2000

Bought October 2006

This expanded after-the-event diary and commentary, rather than autobiography, is interesting in several respects. Its content is that of a chronicle of Tivador Soros and his family’s survival in the Second World War in Budapest. Written in a clear and direct style, it brings the horrors and randomness of survival to the fore.

Beyond that, for me there were three points of interest. First, the character of Tivador Soros shines through every page of the text. He is a man accustomed to power and influence, and none of his sense of control seems to leave him during those days in which he hid his family and adopted a false identity. Second, the Hungary he describes is so recognisable from the Hungary of today: the adoption of order and doctrine on the surface, while corruption, hypocrisy and a stubborn arrogance flourish underneath. Finally, the book is interesting in that it was originally written by the author in Esperanto and subsequently translated into English. That the book had to be translated into English to bring it to a wider audience (and that I could not find the Esperanto version) shows the sorry state to which the international has declined.

Overall, this short book is well worth reading.

December 2006