Cognition & Reality

Friday, 13 August 2010

Fury On Earth: Bad Biography

Filed under: Wilhelm Reich — drtone @ 12:49 pm

I’m reading Fury on Earth, by Myron Sharaf, which seems to be the principal biography of Wilhelm Reich. It is less a biography than notes for a memoir, including continuous editorial comment, by someone with strong feelings for and against his subject. In the introduction, Sharaf describes the period when Reich was fucking Sharaf’s wife, which seems like a bad beginning for a biography and a bad credential for a biographer. To be fair, Sharaf had his own long, complicated relationship with Reich, as student, friend,  patient, and employee. The point is that the man was too close to his subject to write a reliable biography that emphasizes events and persons, rather than the author’s ideas about the significance of those events and persons.

Going over the references in the Wikipedia entry on Reich, it would appear that there is no other actual biography of Reich, except for memoirs by Reich himself and by other associates of his. If anyone out there knows of a serious Reich biography, please let me know. Now that Reich’s files are available for examination in depth, it’s time for a new biography. Because it would involve reading Reich’s work, it would require a biographer fluent in German.

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