45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating Until the Very End,
This review is from: The Schopenhauer Cure (Hardcover)
As a psychiatrist, now newly retired, who has read most of Yalom's books, including his standard textbook on group therapy, I knew more or less what to expect in terms of the descriptions of group process. What surprised me was the heavy interlarding of both biography and exegesis of the pessimistic and misanthropic Schopenhauer, surely one of the least understood and oft-lampooned philosophers -- I'm reminded of that line from one of Ira Gershwin's lyrics: "My evenings were sour/Spent with Schopenhauer" -- whose writings are quoted, in translation, extensively to make certain points. As one of the group's participants says late in the book, the quotations are highly selected to make a certain kind of point, and many of Schopenhauer's other writings that contradict those quotations are conveniently passed over. Still, it's a daring literary conceit and one that Yalom very nearly pulled off. One certainly admires his daring is attempting it.
As a novel, one comes to care for the characters -- with some exceptions -- and the story carries one along. Unfortunately, the last fifty pages or so feel arbitrary, casually tossed off, and thus disappointing. One senses that Yalom cares for his characters, toward the end, as little as Schopenhauer cared for 'human bipeds,' to use his term.
I am glad to have read this novel. Yalom is an interesting writer. I do wish it had been better edited, though.