The Virginia Quarterly Review

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 177

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[The White Hotel] begins as a straightforward fictional re-creation of a Freudian case history [and] ends as an apocalyptic vision of life beyond the realm of psychological science. [D. M.] Thomas' Freud brings to the lyrical, erotic fantasies of his sexually-obsessed, hysterical patient the rational science of the case study. We join in the analytic enterprise as intellectual thriller to discover, with Freud, the death instinct beyond the pleasure principle. But Thomas takes us beyond Freud, beyond Eros and Thanatos, and thus challenges the very substance of the Freudian text. Within the analysand, he suggests, buried within her individual neurosis, is the subtext of history—the Final Solution. And beyond the horror is the transcendent vision of salvation through love in the mythical state of Israel. In this bold, intellectually challenging novel, Thomas goes beyond both history and historical fiction: he explores the shadowy realm of perception and perceiver with breathtaking vision and artistry.

"Fiction: 'The White Hotel'," in The Virginia Quarterly Review (copyright, 1981, by The Virginia Quarterly Review, The University of Virginia), Vol. 57, No. 3 (Summer, 1981), p. 99.


Beverly Lowry


Pearl K. Bell