Brenda Maddox, in her review of Rosemary Mahoney's "Whoredom in Kimmage," (Book Review, Oct. 17) appears to allow her own political and/or philosophical leanings to influence her evaluation of the work.
Maddox finds fault with Mahoney because she does not devote sufficient space in her book to excoriating the Irish Republican Army and stressing the enormous debts that Ireland owes its old nemesis, England, such as birth control, jobs and--gasp--women's magazines.
Maybe Mahoney doesn't think magazines add a whole lot to the incredibly rich history of Irish culture. Maybe she's more impressed with Irish women fighting for birth control of their own than running to England and Northern Ireland to get it. Maybe she blames England in part for Ireland's comparative poverty. And maybe--just maybe--she sees the presence of the IRA as a sin which rests on the soul of the occupying U.K. rather than on the land subject to conquest, ethnic cleansing and cultural destruction by England for 800 years. Maddox herself flippantly refers to the Irish language as "unusable." Yes it is, thanks to the nation that Mahoney is expected to pay homage to.
If Maddox takes issue with Mahoney's politics that is certainly her right. But I think it is poor literary criticism to give a work a less than stellar review merely because the reviewer disagrees with the writer's political viewpoint. Maddox is perfectly free to brown-nose the British all she wants but I for one respect Irish-Americans who do not.
MARY BENEDICT, SHERMAN OAKS
WOMEN OF CHARACTER
Louise Kaplan's review of my book, "Translate This Darkness: The Life of Christiana Morgan" (Book Review, Oct. 17) translates my translation of Morgan's life into Kaplan's own compelling view of history and of male and female relations. Kaplan, in her book "Female Perversions" brilliantly delineated the many ways in which the culture as a whole perverts, contains and regulates people who act contrary to gender expectations; she also sensitively portrayed the ways women hand their power over to men. In this scenario, and in her review, Jung is a perverter whose victims were the women around him. This is \o7 not\f7 what my book was about.
My book was about one woman's life and how she met, challenged, was restricted by, yet acted in the world in which she lived. I thank Kaplan for her recognition that I stayed faithful to my subject, Christiana Morgan. In order to \o7 stay\f7 faithful to her and the other women I wrote about, let me note here that each of the women Kaplan mentions only as victims I mention as heroines as well. Sabina Spielrein, Antonia Wolff, Emma Jung and Christiana Morgan all were restricted, yes, but each one of them also led a creative and productive life. They were among the busiest and most gifted of the early analysts; they each wrote significant work which contributed to the formation of theory (Spielrein on the death instinct; Wolff on female typology; Emma Jung on the animus anima concept in Jungian theory and Morgan on the TAT and on emotions and feelings) and each woman was accepted and encouraged by her mentor (Morgan also by Murray) as essential and valued co-workers.
My plea is for balance. My book honored Jung and Murray for their recognition and assistance of these women as well as criticized both men for using women's "deviant" creativity for their own ends. It is as easy to make villains of the early founders of pyscho-dynamic theory--whether Freud or Jung (or their follower, Henry Murray)--as it is to make them into gods. It is much harder to look at both their genius and their failings while also considering that the viewer and the reviewer both translate the past from our own uncertain and by no means singularly enlightened moment in time.
CLAIRE DOUGLAS, MALIBU
A STUMBLE TOWARD SAGACITY
Our new Dick as the free-floating intellectual?
Patt Morrison's interview with Richard Riordan (Book Review, Oct. 10) reminds me of something Gilbert Chesterton (one of the mayor's literary paladin's) once wrote: "The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs." Harboring 40,000 books is a nice stumble toward sagacity--and to her credit Morrison does identity the mayor's bedside as the ideal spot to promote local literacy--but \o7 owning\f7 a horde of books means little. \o7 Books ya gotta read.\f7
And you never have time to read everything in life. In fact, with a schedule so demanding, shouldn't someone suggest the mayor consider donating 1,000 of his newest books each to 30 interested families or organizations--or perhaps 30 books to 1,000 parties. Either way the generous drain would leave the mayor with 6,000 new additions to his library for a total of 10,000 volumes. Mr. Mayor, please imagine the Christmas gift-giving potential (imagine the positive publicity).