Female Adolescence
  • Sep 10, 1987
    149 p., 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

    ISBN: 9780300040319
  • Paper: $20.00 tx
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Literary Studies

Female Adolescence

Psychoanalytic Reflections on Literature

  • Katherine Dalsimer


"A sensitive, gracefully written exploration of the distinctiveness of the female adolescent experience. The author combines insights drawn from her clinical practice with informed analyses of familiar works of literature, ranging from Romeo and Juliet to The Diary of Anne Frank. Her work illuminates and advances our understanding of female adolescent development."--Albert J. Solnit

"Female Adolescence has virtues that in combination are very hard to come by. For one thing, Dr. Dalsimerís feeling for literature is as impressive as her understanding of psychology. Yet she equally avoids the specialized vocabularies and professional blind spots of both critics and psychoanalysts. Her readings are fresh, but wellinformed. Her topic is original, but ripe for treatment. Female adolescence has been a neglected subject. We now have an important book addressed as much to the general reader as to critics, analysts, and workers in the field of womenís studies."--George Stade

"Freud said that his own views on femininity were íincomplete and fragmentary,í and advised us to íturn to the poets,í if we wanted to learn more. Katherine Dalsimer has done just that, exploring female adolescence in psychoanalytic theory and in literature--from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to Carson McCullers, Muriel Spark, and Anne Frank. She finds that the insights of psychoanalysis enhance our appreciation of the poets, and the intuitions of great literature contribute to our scientific understanding of developmental psychology. Dr. Dalsimer adds her own considerable clinical experience as she effortlessly guides us back and forth between these approaches and enriches our knowledge of such themes as reactions to parental death, crushes and first loves, and the crystallization of a personal identity. This book will be treasured by anyone who has taught or treated an adolescent girl, or read a book about one, or, like Freud and the rest of us, simply wondered at the miracle of transformation of a girl into a woman."--Robert Michels, M.D.

"A brilliant and evocative analysis of the transition from girlhood to womanhood, with its longings, its pain, and the pride of growing up. The depiction is rich with the particularities of the experiences of adolescent girls, and provides a welcome contrast to the usual rendering of this period as a variation on male development. The work will be illuminating to both the specialist and the general reader, and for all of us, it provides the pleasure of a greater understanding of our fictional friends."--Lila Braine

"This beautifully written book exemplifies and critically tests psychoanalytic formulations of female development in adolescence by attending closely to enduring works of literature. Dr. Dalsimerís commentaries prove consistently empathetic, discerning, and convincing; her readings of Anne Frankís DIARY is superbly illuminating. FEMALE ADOLESCENCE renders important service both to psychoanalysis and to literary studies."--Paul Schwaber, Professor of Letters, Wesleyan University

"This work may be useful in many classrooms, whether the subject is human development, psychology or womenís studies, or extraliterary approaches to literature. It is both approachable and provocative for the general reader. Its apt and economical summaries of previous psychoanalytic literature on the topic serve more than adequately to draw in a reader without a background in the subject."--Mary Pellauer, Hungry Mind Review

"Dalsimerís book is a success, especially in her goal to refute earlier psychoanalytic notions that female adolescents are repulsed by, or attempt to deny, their emerging sexual urges."--Elizabeth Stark, Belles Lettres

"These meditations on the transition from girlhood to womanhood enhance understanding both of literature and of psychoanalytic theories of human development."--Cultural Information Service

"Dalsimerís interpretations are remarkable for the intelligent and informed acuity of her psychoanalytic observations as well as for their preservation of the texture of lived experience. The style is lively; the documentation is authoritative and sensible. An unusual and satisfying work, which will be of interest to scholars, college and graduate students, and general readers in the fields of psychoanalysis, literary interpretation, and womenís studies. A uniquely felicitous conjunction of psychoanalysis and literature."--Choice

"Filled with insightful new perceptions about familiar texts and written with a grace professional literary scholars might envy."--Journal of Modern Literature

"A rewarding book that succeeds in its principal purpose, to disseminate information about womenís experience and problems during adolescence."--Kay Stockholder, Ariel

"She has the courage . . . to use both literature and psychoanalysis as two bodies of knowledge to speak to a third term, to generate new knowledge, specifically, to advance our understanding of the experience of female adolescence. . . . An intelligent and sensitive book."--Kathleen Woodward, Medical Humanities Review

"A sophisticated and integrated review of the psychological passage of girls from prepuberty into adult life. . . . A pleasure to read."--Eveoleen Rexford, International Review of PsychoAnalysis

"Dalsimer is successful in offering a basic understanding of adolescent dilemmas in an engaging manner which stimulates interest in both psychoanalytic theory and in literature."--Jane Barlow, M.D., Psychiatric Journal of the University of Ottawa

"Katherine Dalsimerís slim volume fills a real need. It is a study of the psychoanalytic theories of female adolescent development which is perceptive and eminently readable. She has skillfully integrated psychoanalytic understanding of the stages of female adolescent development with an acute and sensitive understanding of the literary achievements of writers."--Muriel Laskin, Psychoanalytic Quarterly