Saturday, January 25, 2014

Neurosis and Human Growth: The Novel

I read Richard Yates’ 1961 novel Revolutionary Road

just after I posted about Karen Horney’s work. It was coincidence – a couple of people had mentioned it in other contexts – but it so powerfully illustrated Horney’s ideas that it seemed almost the novelization of her thought. (One of many, to be sure.)

Also coincidentally, the 2008 movie, in which I hadn’t been particularly interested prior to reading the book, happened to be on TV just after I’d finished it, so I watched that, too. It wasn’t bad. It has to be difficult to adapt such a psychological novel to film,* and I feared intrusive voiceovers. Fortunately, the movie relied on dialogue carefully selected from the book to convey the characters’ thoughts, although of course it couldn’t fully capture the novel’s richness. It also stayed true enough to the book, and didn’t try anything too gimmicky. On the other hand, if I hadn’t read the book first, I’m not sure if I would have found the film satisfying; it’s easy to read the internal dialogues from a book into a movie, especially when you’ve read it recently.

* This wasn’t really a problem with the character of April Wheeler, played by Kate Winslet. Since the novel isn’t told from her point of view, her thoughts and motives have to be ascertained from her words and actions even there.

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