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September 2022 Vol. 60 No. 1

Seagull Books

The following review appeared in the September 2022 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences

Fachinelli, Elvio. The still arrow: three attempts to annul time, tr. by Lorenzo Chiesa. Seagull Books, 2021. 125p bibl index ISBN 9780857428516, $21.50.

Fachinelli (1928–89) was a prominent Italian psychoanalyst, and wrote this landmark study of obsessional neurosis in Italian. First published in 1979 and here translated for the first time into English, the book was inspired by a single case in which an obsessional man was observed to attempt, through his practice of tackling daily activities, to nullify time by doing them in reverse order. The case itself becomes, in the telling, the occasion for a wide range of speculations by the author on the place of time in the fields of psychoanalysis, history, politics, anthropology, and religious studies. The interdisciplinary scope of this book is its greatest strength. Despite being more than 40 years old, the text continues to offer fresh perspectives on how the handling of time by individuals, as repudiation of death, is reflected on a macro social level, e.g., among particular social groups and in the politics of memorialization. Freud's Totem and Taboo serves as the touchstone text for Fachinelli's examination of how guilt, death, archaic society, and religious attitudes interrelate conceptually. The book rethinks Freudianism and should interest scholars of the European history of ideas, psychoanalysis, and religion as well as practitioners who seek fresh approaches to conceptualizing the difficult cases of obsessional patients.

--M. Uebel, University of Texas

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty, and professionals.