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This article is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

Freudian Psychology and the Early Work of Adrian Stokes Richard Read

'No sign of Frederick Hohenstaufen in the railway station at least'.1 The ironic sense of relief conveyed by this beginning of The Quattro Cento (1932) is probably directed against Osbert Sitwell, who, in Winters of Content (1932) hailed that absent medieval emperor (born at Jesi) as a greater patron of the arts than Sigismondo Malatesta, Ezra Pound's and Stokes's hero.2 Near the unpleasant fountains of Jesi, Stokes proceeds to disengage his chosen 'Quattro Cento' art from the Rococo and Baroque tastes of his erstwhile fellow-travellers, the Sitwell brothers. It is apt that a change of intellectual and emotional allegiance should introduce the first of Stokes's major works on art, for collectively they seek to show how art reflects the resolutions of our inner life.

The death of Stokes's gifted eldest brother in the First World War brought on alternating moods of torpor and intense ambition. Stokes later felt that this crippling emotional dilemma originated in a guilty desire to take his brother's place. ' "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain had said. That was a wicked, frightened joke of Cain's' (CWS, II, p. 150). This biblical interpretation appears in Stokes's autobiography, Inside Out (1947), but the 'brotherliness' he found in the columns of Luciano Laurana's courtyard, in Piero della Francesca's colour-harmonies and in the Lawrentian-sounding 'lovers and sons' carved by Donatello from the 'female block' cannot be explained by autobiography alone. In undergraduate articles the 'Dilemma' (as one title put it) had been largely philosophical, between Kant's ...


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