From Publishers Weekly
In writing the life of the man who established psychoanalysis in Britain, veteran biographer Maddox (Nora: The Real Molly Bloom
) gives an equally fascinating (if more familiar) picture of the early world of psychoanalysis, with its conflicting egos and theoretical battles, particularly between strict Freudians and the followers of Melanie Klein, which fiercely divided the English psychoanalytic society founded and ruled over by Ernest Jones. Maddox frames Jones's life as the story of a man whose enormous gifts finally allowed him to triumph over early disgrace. A Welshman who'd shown brilliance as a medical student, Jones (1879–1958) had to leave England in 1908 after accusations of sexual impropriety while examining several youngsters; Maddox finds the evidence in one case "damning." But Jones returned two years later to practice psychoanalysis and advocate tirelessly for it, soon becoming a member of Freud's inner circle. While one wishes for a bit more insight, Maddox wisely refrains from psychoanalyzing Jones, who took full advantage of his ability to mesmerize women before finally settling into a happy marriage, and his alternately affectionate and irritable relationship with his mentor (Jones at one point accused Freud's daughter, Anna, of being "insufficiently analyzed"; Freud in turn called Jones a lying Welshman). Perhaps Jones's greatest moment was in saving Freud and many other Jewish psychoanalysts from the Nazis. Maddox adds an important chapter to the history of psychoanalysis in this balanced and skillful biography. (Mar. 19)
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Acolyte, voluminous correspondent, rescuer from Nazis, and biographer of Sigmund Freud, Ernest Jones (1879-1958) was a prominent propagator of psychoanalysis to the English-speaking world. In this intriguing portrait of Jones, Maddox, the talented author of Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA
(2002) as well as English literary biographies, confines psychoanalysis to a supporting role, a wise tactic considering readers' range of opinion about it. Its principles and jargon appear when central to Jones' career, such as his application of analysis to Hamlet
, which became influential in literary criticism and cinematography. Maddox otherwise conducts a narrative chronology of Jones covering his youth in Wales, the end of his conventional medical career amid never-proven insinuations of improper behavior with girls, and his friendship with Freud. Drama arises in the form of Jones' female companions, including a common-law wife, two marriages, and patients professing their love; Jones was not, as Maddox observes, a man who wondered what women want. Intimately associated with the founders of psychoanalysis, the imperfect, egocentric Jones as presented here is a colorful character well worth meeting. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved