« 上一頁繼續 »
and every entry of the diary is tantamount to a pathological obsession. It is to be noted, however, that the editor, in her preface, claims merely that nothing has been added or subtracted from the author's own narrative; she does not claim that the dates of the entries are true: and thus her assurances are quite consistent with the view that the writer, relying upon a vivid verbal memory or perhaps upon contemporary notes, has thrown her childish recollections retrospectively into diary form.
Encouraged, no doubt, by the popularity attained by such writings as those of Daisy Ashford and Opal Whiteley, so many publications, purporting to give the unaided work of young children, have recently been issued, that it is perhaps worth while to labour this particular criticism. To cast a work of fiction into an autobiographical form, and to change names and dates from genuine autobiographies in a way that is utterly bewildering to the scientific student, has always been regarded by the man of letters and the man of business as a legitimate literary device; while members of the general public, unaware of such conventions, are apt to take the Book of Job and Rider Haggard's She at their face value as narratives, equally authentic, of literal and absolute fact. I may, therefore, in some detail enumerate the chief reasons, which make it difficult to be quite sure that the present diary was set down, by a child so young as is implied, at the actual time of the events recorded.
(1) The diary is begun before the age of eleven, and continued throughout the next three-and-a-half years. During that short period the child writes over one hundred thousand words. This is hardly the achievement of an average girl. The writing, too, is done in secret; and the loose leaves are kept private (without any facilities in the earlier years for locking them up) both from an inquisitive sister who shares her room, and from an anxious mother who already harbours suspicions about the girl's letters and thoughts.
(2) Some of the entries for a single day run into five pages of print, nearly two thousand words. Four hundred words an hour is a good speed for a child of this age. But how many would continue at that speed, voluntarily and without discovery, for five hours during a single day? On one occasion the girl copies a letter of four printed pages; this letter has taken her friend four days to write, and takes the diarist herself (judging both by her own statements and by the dates in the diary) three or four days to copy; and yet, within the same week, there are several longer entries, which, seeing that their dates are consecutive, profess each to have been written within a single day. The speed and quantity of writing thus implied is neither consistent with itself, nor with what we know of the powers of the average girl. Further, why trouble to copy the letter? Why was it not as easy to keep the letter secret as to keep the looseleaf diary secret? We are left to conclude that this was the only device which the writer could adopt for introducing its contents into a publication which was to be, in literary form, a diary and nothing but a diary.
(3) Although much of the phraseology consists of genuine childish idiom and schoolgirl slang, nevertheless, beneath this simple language, there is discernible, even during the first few months, a sustained ability for consecutive logical thinking such as would rarely be found in a child so young. The prolonged arguments against parental views no doubt represent rightly enough the general feelings of the growing girl at this age; but there are very few children of eleven who would have the patience and power to set out every step of the discussion with such logical explicitness. The girl, it is true, attends
a high school (Lyceum); and is, indeed, fairly high in her class. But her school records, even when she is putting forward her best efforts, show no signs of such unusual literary genius.
(4) The diary, as a literary work, is extraordinarily coherent and extraordinarily intelligible. Very few diaries, which, like this one, are naturally written only for the eyes of the diarist, would be comprehensible, or even interesting, to a second party. But here every line can be immediately understood. The very first paragraph carefully gives the names, and implies the relations, of the three chief actresses, Rita, the diarist, Dora, her sister, and Hella, Rita's closest friend. Originally, it is true, the diary was written to be shown to Hella; but this seems never actually to have been done; and, even so, the deliberate explanations would not be necessary for so intimate a friend. Lizzi, for example, is introduced; and we are immediately informed that she is Hella's own sister. Later Hella's cousins are named; and the relation is explicitly announced. Children who are scribbling diaries, rapidly and on the sly, do not stop to mention in detail the family relationships of people they have known for years.
Individuals about to play an important part in the drama are nearly always encountered for the first time just before the interesting adventure in which they are concerned takes place, so that the description of each person is fresh in the mind of the reader. The result is that, from the first page to the last, not a single foot-note is required to elucidate the text. Is there a single diary of any young person so self-explanatory?
(5) The internal coherence and dramatic unity of the narrative are no less amazing. There is little or nothing of the bare time-table of events"yesterday morning I went there...; in the afternoon I came here...; to-day I have done so and so..."-dull and personal trivialities with which young people's diaries are for the most part occupied. School, and the various incidents and personages met with in school life, are occasionally reported in detail; but even these are introduced only as converging upon the big central theme; and, from commencement to close, interest is assiduously sustained from paragraph to paragraph by making the last entry of one day lead up, as a general rule, to the topic of the next.
The book begins appropriately enough with the decision of Rita, and her most intimate school friend, Hella, to start a diary, now that they are entering the high school. Almost immediately the main problem of its pages-the relations of the young writer to her relatives and to persons of the opposite sex-is formulated in her childish way; and the girl then introduces and describes the school mistress who is to have such an influence upon her during the next few years. Then, stage by stage, through the narrative of actual experiences and conversations, Rita gradually analyses and defines her problem; and tells how she acquires and corrects her personal views. A climax is reached when her mother is seized with illness, and eventually dies. The favourite school mistress, who meanwhile had left the school to marry, visits the child again, and comforts her. Rita, having now acquired the knowledge that she wishes, and being thus gravely impressed by her mother's death and by the kindness of her former teacher, at length gives up her previous interest in improprieties; and, finally, as she is preparing for a winter holiday in the hills, loses her other parent. Thus, this self-contained and most significant section of her life comes to a natural close; and, appropriately enough, the diary
These four or five peculiar features are, it is true, compatible with an alternative hypothesis, different from that which I have already put forward It is possible that where the mind (in current phraseology) can draw upon reserves of energy ordinarily locked up in the unconscious, there its performances may rise distinctly above those which are characteristic of the average child under average conditions. A possibility of this sort is suggested by the fact, noted by Dr Kimmins in his recent study of Children's Dreams, that the young child's compositions describing his nocturnal dreams (and, I may add, the narratives of older children describing their day-dreams) are, both in quality and quantity, unexpectedly above the average level for English school children at the particular ages studied. Such a conclusion, however, dealing as it does with a marked and exceptional deviation from the normal, needs fuller evidence for its support. And, even so, when the results soar to the sustained level of the present work, it cannot discharge us from the necessity of still considering the author as a genius; for, in the view of some, the very definition of genius consists in the power to draw, to a degree that is denied to most, upon subconscious reservoirs of mental power.
In spite of all these criticisms, I do not wish to imply that the picture which the work gives us of the child's attitude towards these special problems is, in its general character, at all untrustworthy. Internal evidence (which, again, apart from the vague assurances of the editor, is all we have to go upon) is clear in showing that the substance is as genuine as the form is disputable. It is evidently the substance that the editor has considered of greatest interest.
On the other hand, it is the literary form that will interest the special public to whom the book is addressed. The uninformed layman, it is true, may be startled or disturbed to find such notions in a young and girlish mind. But, as every student of child life knows, it is not the harbouring of persistent speculations or perverted views on sex that is at all remarkable: it is their full and logical commitment to paper. Could a child of twelve write so on such a topic? And, if so, could it be intellectually and morally normal?
A word of praise is due to the translators. To discover English equivalents for the original misspellings and colloquial idioms of a German school girl, and yet to preserve the easy and natural flow of the narrative was no easy task; and this task they have performed with singular felicity and skill.
Psycho-Analysis and Behaviour. By ANDRÉ TRIDON. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1920; London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., Ltd. Price, 10s. 6d. Pp. 354.
Whether it is possible to achieve the aim of which the author informs us in the preface to his book "This is an attempt at interpreting human conduct from the psycho-analytical point of view"-must be a matter of some doubt. Smallish books which attempt to cover vast areas of thought of a profound and complicated nature, and at the same time make a bid for large and popular audiences, are rarely successful: to preserve accuracy in the presentation is almost impossible. The present volume, though containing some useful material, suffers from the same defects as many of the other
works on Psycho-Analysis issuing from America in astonishing numbers. It has attempted to cover far too much ground, for one thing; a glance at the contents-list will show the wide-too wide range of the book which deals with The Organism, Problems of Childhood, Progress and Regressions, Sleep and Dreams, Problems of Sex, The Psycho-Analytic Treatment, etc. This objection, however, is far less important than the next objection which has reference to the method employed. The whole book is written in a disjointed style, which carries one on in a series of jerks; abbreviated and partial statements, end-conclusions (necessarily appearing quite dogmatic and unbased, even when accurate in substance), "popular" instances and sayings-all these abound, serving to create an impression on the reader's mind of hotch-potch and hasty verdicts. Such a treatment involves the writer frequently in inconsistency, even contradiction.
But a far more important feature of the book than anything yet referred to a feature which goes far to stultify the book as a whole is the constant occurrence of most misleading and superficial statements concerning matters of vital import. It would seem, indeed, as though the author had pursued the same disastrous policy which he recommends to his readers on p. 271, bidding "all students of Psycho-Analysis to glance at a few books on Hypnotism, to convince themselves of the neurotic character of that practice." It cannot be too often and too strongly reiterated that "glances" into profound and complex matters are worse than useless-in truth, such glancing tends perilously near to charlatanry. Mr Tridon's remarkable mis-statements or partial statements (which become almost equivalent to mis-statement) can surely only be due to a lack of mastery of the subject. Take, for instance, this from the chapter on "The Sexual Enlightenment of Children" (p. 68), "Accurate information of a scientific type stops inquiries and day-dreams and vouchsafes to the child's mind the peace that comes with the securing of evidential facts, satisfactory to one's reason." One must ask: Where did the writer obtain this "fact"? Certainly not from study of Freud, Ferenczi, or Ernest Jones-to name the three leading names in the Psycho-Analytic movement: certainly not from the first-hand study of childrens' or adults' minds, and equally certainly not from the study of history, religion, or primitive man.
On p. 207 we read: "According to whether the majority of dreams refer to the past, the present, or the future they may reveal a regressive, a static, or a positive tendency." Again we ask whence does the author derive the idea? Not from Psycho-Analysis assuredly.
These are but two instances of a mass of similar confused statement, cropping up everywhere among much that might be useful and accurate if more fully developed.
Dream Psychology. Psycho-Analysis for Beginners. By Prof. Dr SIGMUND FREUD, author of "Interpretation of Dreams." Authorised English translation by M. D. EDER. With an Introduction by ANDRÉ TRIDON. The James A. McCann Company, New York, 1920.
This book is noted in these columns, not for review, but for the purpose of warning unsuspecting readers who may imagine that it is what it purports to be- a new book on Dream Psychology by Professor Freud, translated by
Dr M. D. Eder.
In actual fact the book is a "pirated" réchauffé of Professor Freud's small book on dreams, the authorised version of which was translated in 1914, by Dr M. D. Eder, and of his Traumdeutung, translated by Dr Brill in 1913.
Mr André Tridon, who writes a Preface, congratulates the publishers on this volume. We prefer not to characterise the action of a writer who lends his hand to such a transaction as this.
Lunacy in India. By A. W. OVERBECK WRIGHT, M.D., M.B., CH.B., M.P.C., D.P.H., Major I.M.S. pp. xii + 406. London: Baillière, Tindall and Cox. Price, 218.
As stated in the preface the object of this book is three-fold: (1) to summarize the condition of lunatics in India, and the means available for treatment; (2) to emphasize the importance of toxaemias as aetiological factors in a very large proportion of such cases; and (3) to place on record the views of the author gained from nineteen years residence in the East.
In almost every respect the work under review must be held to be disappointing, except perhaps to those who hold the author's views as to the extreme importance of the leucocyte count as a means of classification and diagnosis of mental diseases.
Except in the statistical and medico-legal sections there is comparatively little in the book which has any special reference to the problem of the Psychoses in India, and very many of the illustrative cases are from English text books and works of reference.
The importance of the Toxaemias as aetiological factors will be felt by many to be unduly stressed, and the classification which considers paranoia to be due to metabolic toxaemia, and katatonia and hebephrenia to bacterial toxaemia, will probably not find many adherents.
In the chapter on Psychasthenia, Neurasthenia and Hysteria there is the confusion of distinct clinical entities which must arise if there is no sympathy with the psychological work which has been done on the Psychoneuroses. Neurasthenia is considered as a practically similar condition to Psychasthenia, the essential differences being that in the former there is no evidence of hereditary taint.
The chapter on Psychology is derived mainly from the works of Stout and McDougall, but the author adds yet another classification of the instincts which he considers most useful to those studying mental diseases. He considers that the sexual instinct is quite apart from the instinct to perpetuate the species.
Under the term sexual instinct he groups the connate tendencies leading to the formation of all that in common parlance is indicated by the words "womanly" and "manly." The instinct to perpetuate the species is apparently confined to the frankly libidinous desires, normal or abnormal.
It is typical of the author's attitude towards the psychological factor in mental diseases when he states that psychologists are now practically unanimous in affirming that the views of Freud and Jung are unsound, and that in another twenty years their teaching will be forgotten or stored as curiosities in scientific libraries.
Galvanism is strongly advocated as a method of treatment both in the acute psychoses and in the psychoneuroses.
M. B. WRIGHT.