A Mind of Her Own (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Karen Horney was born just outside Hamburg in 1885, at a time when a German woman could not work or sign a contract without her husband’s consent, nor vote or assemble for political purposes. Her possibilities for education were limited, and marriage was often an economic necessity. Horney’s own mother, Clothilde Marie (“Sonni”) van Ronzelen, daughter of a prosperous Dutch-born architect, married, at age twenty-eight, Berndt Henrik Wackels Danielsen, a forty-four-year-old widower with four children, who was a steamship captain and the son of a Norwegian watchmaker. Sonni married considerably beneath her class and her father, had he been alive, would certainly not have approved, but at age twenty-eight she was facing the prospect of remaining single for life.
Sonni’s and Wackels’ differences in age, class, temperament, and values resulted in a marriage which was unhappy, tense, and fraught with conflict. Had it not been for her own two children, Berndt and Karen, Sonni, despite the inevitable social disapprobation, might not have stayed in the marriage or might even, as she sometimes implied, have committed suicide. The young children carried the heavy burden of trying to sustain their mother’s happiness, until (and even after) she left the marriage, when Karen was twenty.
Karen’s father was often away at sea for long periods of time so that, for the most part, she experienced him as absent; only infrequently did the zealous...
(The entire section is 2461 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Library Journal. CXII, October 15, 1987, p. 85.
The New York Review of Books. XXXIV, November 5, 1987, p. 14.
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, November 29, 1987, p. 10.
Psychology Today. XXI, November, 1987, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXII, September 25, 1987, p. 88.
Vogue. CLXXVII, November, 1987, p. 262.
(The entire section is 37 words.)