29 April, 2013

Dibs: In Search of Self by Virginia Axline (1964)

Virginia Axline pioneered non-directive play therapy for disturbed children, and this is an account of her sessions with Dibs, a five year old boy from a wealthy family. Dibs was so uncommunicative and aggressive that he was almost considered retarded. His gradual emergence through Axline's gentle techniques is what makes this book a classic in its field, although I must admit to wondering how accurate her account was at times. But it's an incredible read and some of Axline's discoveries, such as that Dibs had secretly taught himself to read, were jawdropping. The identity of Dibs has never been revealed.

17 April, 2013

Carmen by Prosper Mérimée (1845)

This is the story upon which Bizet based his famous opera. While the novella gives much more by way of a backstory, the essential tale remains the same. Carmen, the impossibly 'illuring' gypsy woman, holds the Basque soldier Don José hopelessly in her thrall and leads him into a life of villainy. Set in majestic Andalusia, Carmen is equal parts romance and adventure, and the fall of Don José under Carmen's relentless spell has a sort of Shakespearean inevitability about it. It still speaks to us almost 170 years later because, well, we've all been there on one level or another. A deserved classic, but little read.