It takes chutzpah to come up with a scheme for analyzing creativity--especially in subjects already exhaustively examined. But for psychologist and MacArthur fellow Gardner (Harvard Graduate School of Education), it amounts to a natural progression from his earlier dissections of intelligence: Frames of Mind and Multiple Intelligences argued that, instead of a generalized intelligence, there are at least seven varieties (musical, logical-mathematical, visual, etc.). Here, Gardner chooses prototypes of each variety and provides capsule biographies and analyses along such themes as the child versus the adult creator, and the creator in relation to others and to the work. Gardner finds sufficient commonalities among his seven types of intelligence to provide a synthesis: an ``exemplary creator'' (E.C.). This individual (whom Gardner calls ``she'') is somewhat ``marginal'' in the social milieu, born into a reasonably comfortable family away from the creative center (Picasso and Stravinsky moved to Paris, Freud to Vienna...). There may not be much family love and affection but there may be a devoted nurse or a role model. The child is strong-minded and exhibits ability but isn't necessarily a prodigy. She moves into a decade of mastery of the domain and accomplishes a critical breakthrough that may include the affirmation of a few chosen peers (Picasso and Braque; Stravinsky and Diaghilev). Second and third breakthroughs may develop in successive decades until old age takes its toll. The E.C. retains childlike characteristics, including self- centeredness, even exploitation of others (Stravinsky's litigiousness; Picasso's sadism). E.C.s may make Faustian bargains, often leading to disastrous domestic life and parenthood. One can come up with counterexamples, and argue that there might be Western/20th-century biases at work here. But one has to hand it to Gardner for offering some provocative post-Eriksonian thoughts on creativity that are a lot more stimulating than those that measure creativity according to the ``100 uses of a safety pin'' school of thought. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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