Life Against Death

Life Against Death

Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History is a book by American classicist Norman O. Brown, first published in 1959, with a second edition in 1985. A radical analysis and critique of the work of Sigmund Freud, it tries to provide a theoretical rationale for a nonrepressive civilization, and has been compared to works such as Frankfurt school philosopher Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization and French philosopher Michel Foucault's Madness and Civilization. It explores parallels between psychoanalysis and Martin Luther's theology, and also draws on revolutionary themes in western religious thought, especially the body mysticism of Jakob Böhme and William Blake. The result of an interest in psychoanalysis that began when Marcuse suggested to Brown that he should read Freud, Life Against Death became famous when Norman Podhoretz recommended it to Lionel Trilling. Though it has been called one of the great nonfiction works of the 20th century, some critics have found it of lesser weight than Marcuse's work. It has been suggested that, despite its objectives, the book's arguments imply that sexual repression is biologically inevitable. Brown wrote that his subsequent book Love's Body was written to confuse any followers he acquired due to Life Against Death and destroy its positions.

Read more about Life Against Death:  Background, Synopsis, Critical Evaluations, Brown's View, Influence

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Life Against Death - Influence
... Life Against Death became famous partly because Podhoretz recommended it to Trilling, who produced "a favorable review of this central text of the nascent ... Merquior sees Life Against Death and Madness and Civilization as similar calls "for the liberation of the Dionysian id." Todd Dufresne, who compares Life Against ... Hudson believes Life Against Death presaged a collapse of "our infatuation with hard science", but writes that it was neglected by radicals because its publication coincided with that of Eros and ...

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