Cover image for The mourning of John Lennon
Title:
The mourning of John Lennon
Author:
Elliott, Anthony.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
xi, 219 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
Subject Term:

ISBN:
9780520215481

9780520215498
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library ML420.L37 E45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Loss and mourning loom over John Lennon's life and legacy. Since his tragic death in 1980, he has embodied our culture's feelings of loss; he has become an object of mourning, of fantasy, of desire. Lennon himself created an aesthetic vocabulary for dealing with loss, pain, and loneliness that is unparalleled in modern times. His personal crises reflect core dimensions of modern social experience, in particular transformations affecting sexuality, masculinity, identity, and fatherhood. In this provocative account, Anthony Elliott places Lennon's life and career in its social context, examining the ways the ex-Beatle has come to symbolize an entire culture's struggle to mourn.

Elliott interweaves broad-ranging discussions of celebrity, pop music, politics, feminism, psychoanalysis, and postmodernism with in-depth analyses of Lennon's life and art. Beginning with a brilliant reading of Albert Goldman's bestselling biography, he moves to the loneliness and pain of Lennon's childhood, developing a powerful analysis of songs such as "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus." From "Help" to "Mother" to "I'm Losing You," he contends that a consistent exploration of pain and loss in the wider emotional and political world is evident in the body of Lennon's works.

Elliott explores the complex, contradictory role of love in Lennon's life, with a particular focus on the themes of guilt and grief, sexuality and desire. He gives careful attention to Lennon's personal relationships--from his marriage to Cynthia Powell to his extraordinary romance with Yoko Ono. Elliott also offers a fresh consideration of Lennon's commitment to radical politics and world peace; a detailed account of his withdrawal from public life and his time as a house-husband in the late 1970s; and an examination of the postmodern, hi-tech "reunion" of The Beatles in 1994, in which John Lennon magically returned from the dead for the recording of "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love."

By exploring the ways we remember Lennon--from the endless repackaging of his music to the more serious reappraisals of his significance in contemporary culture--we come to see this modern icon, as well as ourselves, in a new and different light.


Summary

Loss and mourning loom over John Lennon's life and legacy. Since his tragic death in 1980, he has embodied our culture's feelings of loss; he has become an object of mourning, of fantasy, of desire. Lennon himself created an aesthetic vocabulary for dealing with loss, pain, and loneliness that is unparalleled in modern times. His personal crises reflect core dimensions of modern social experience, in particular transformations affecting sexuality, masculinity, identity, and fatherhood. In this provocative account, Anthony Elliott places Lennon's life and career in its social context, examining the ways the ex-Beatle has come to symbolize an entire culture's struggle to mourn.

Elliott interweaves broad-ranging discussions of celebrity, pop music, politics, feminism, psychoanalysis, and postmodernism with in-depth analyses of Lennon's life and art. Beginning with a brilliant reading of Albert Goldman's bestselling biography, he moves to the loneliness and pain of Lennon's childhood, developing a powerful analysis of songs such as "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus." From "Help" to "Mother" to "I'm Losing You," he contends that a consistent exploration of pain and loss in the wider emotional and political world is evident in the body of Lennon's works.

Elliott explores the complex, contradictory role of love in Lennon's life, with a particular focus on the themes of guilt and grief, sexuality and desire. He gives careful attention to Lennon's personal relationships--from his marriage to Cynthia Powell to his extraordinary romance with Yoko Ono. Elliott also offers a fresh consideration of Lennon's commitment to radical politics and world peace; a detailed account of his withdrawal from public life and his time as a house-husband in the late 1970s; and an examination of the postmodern, hi-tech "reunion" of The Beatles in 1994, in which John Lennon magically returned from the dead for the recording of "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love."

By exploring the ways we remember Lennon--from the endless repackaging of his music to the more serious reappraisals of his significance in contemporary culture--we come to see this modern icon, as well as ourselves, in a new and different light.


Author Notes

Anthony Elliott is Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Melbourne. His most recent books are Subject to Ourselves (1996), Psychoanalytic Theory: An Introduction (1994), and Social Theory and Psychoanalysis in Transition (1992). He is the editor of Freud 2000 (1998) and The Blackwell Reader in Contemporary Social Theory (1999), and coeditor of Psychoanalysis in Contexts (1995).


Anthony Elliott is Research Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Melbourne. His most recent books are Subject to Ourselves (1996), Psychoanalytic Theory: An Introduction (1994), and Social Theory and Psychoanalysis in Transition (1992). He is the editor of Freud 2000 (1998) and The Blackwell Reader in Contemporary Social Theory (1999), and coeditor of Psychoanalysis in Contexts (1995).


Reviews 6

Booklist Review

According to Elliott, this isn't another John Lennon biography but an unraveling of "the cultural and ideological meanings invested in, and provoked by, Lennon." Elliott is most interested in the post-Beatle Lennon: his solo music, his marriage to Yoko Ono, his identity crisis in the 1970s, his time as househusband and father, his musical comeback, and his death and its cultural consequences. Pretty heady stuff--successfully realized, too. Lennon's later career seemed as self-conscious as the Beatles part seemed natural. Elliott turns his eye for detail not only on the sometimes loopy projects Lennon, often with Ono, undertook but also on the contemporary reaction (at one point, he joyfully lays waste to Albert Goldman's Lives of John Lennon). Readable, provocative, detailed yet brief, this title is probably best for dedicated Beatle fans and those interested in the heavy mantle of pop stardom and the changes that it foments. At least it picks up where most Lennon and Beatles books leave off. --Mike Tribby


Library Journal Review

Ambivalence in John Lennon's life and work is a primary theme in Elliott's self-described "metabiography," but it also applies to the author's attempt to "uncover some of the implications Lennon's assault on the ideology of celebrity carries for our personal and political lives." Elliott, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne and author of Psychoanalytic Theory: An Introduction (Blackwell, 1994), uses psychoanalytic, cultural, and critical theory to examine the way Lennon melded his music, politics, and view of celebrity. Elliott develops some insightful discussions, but obscure writing, some factual errors, and a reliance on secondary source material undermine his authority. Discussion of Lennon's intimate relationships are consciously limited to key women in his life, but it is hard to consider any treatment of his losses complete without an examinaton of the death of original Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe. Well intentioned but ultimately an optional purchase.ÄLloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Elliott (political science, Univ. of Melbourne)--author of Psychoanalytic Theory, 1994, and other works on social theory and psychoanalysis--deftly applies his analytical skills to John Lennon's life and musical contributions. His sympathetic exploration begins with an attack on Albert Goldman's The Lives of John Lennon (1988) and other studies that lack a nuanced understanding. Elliott believes Lennon's distant relationship with his mother explains much of his musical output and many of his psychological problems: "In an artistic sense, Lennon's attempt to come to grips with loss provided the impetus for some of his most creative and reflective work." Much of the book focuses on John's convoluted relationship with Yoko Ono and their political commitments, both of which Elliott believes were mostly positive: "By 1980, the great romance had been transformed into a great marriage." Focusing on Lennon's post-Beatles life, the author weaves together sympathetic personal and musical analyses. Though no substitute for fuller biographies--e.g., Ray Coleman's Lennon (1985)--Elliott's book provides intriguing insights into Lennon's artistic genius and personal life. Endnotes and discography are helpful. Recommended for general and academic readers, upper-division undergraduates and above. R. D. Cohen; Indiana University Northwest


Booklist Review

According to Elliott, this isn't another John Lennon biography but an unraveling of "the cultural and ideological meanings invested in, and provoked by, Lennon." Elliott is most interested in the post-Beatle Lennon: his solo music, his marriage to Yoko Ono, his identity crisis in the 1970s, his time as househusband and father, his musical comeback, and his death and its cultural consequences. Pretty heady stuff--successfully realized, too. Lennon's later career seemed as self-conscious as the Beatles part seemed natural. Elliott turns his eye for detail not only on the sometimes loopy projects Lennon, often with Ono, undertook but also on the contemporary reaction (at one point, he joyfully lays waste to Albert Goldman's Lives of John Lennon). Readable, provocative, detailed yet brief, this title is probably best for dedicated Beatle fans and those interested in the heavy mantle of pop stardom and the changes that it foments. At least it picks up where most Lennon and Beatles books leave off. --Mike Tribby


Library Journal Review

Ambivalence in John Lennon's life and work is a primary theme in Elliott's self-described "metabiography," but it also applies to the author's attempt to "uncover some of the implications Lennon's assault on the ideology of celebrity carries for our personal and political lives." Elliott, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne and author of Psychoanalytic Theory: An Introduction (Blackwell, 1994), uses psychoanalytic, cultural, and critical theory to examine the way Lennon melded his music, politics, and view of celebrity. Elliott develops some insightful discussions, but obscure writing, some factual errors, and a reliance on secondary source material undermine his authority. Discussion of Lennon's intimate relationships are consciously limited to key women in his life, but it is hard to consider any treatment of his losses complete without an examinaton of the death of original Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe. Well intentioned but ultimately an optional purchase.ÄLloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Elliott (political science, Univ. of Melbourne)--author of Psychoanalytic Theory, 1994, and other works on social theory and psychoanalysis--deftly applies his analytical skills to John Lennon's life and musical contributions. His sympathetic exploration begins with an attack on Albert Goldman's The Lives of John Lennon (1988) and other studies that lack a nuanced understanding. Elliott believes Lennon's distant relationship with his mother explains much of his musical output and many of his psychological problems: "In an artistic sense, Lennon's attempt to come to grips with loss provided the impetus for some of his most creative and reflective work." Much of the book focuses on John's convoluted relationship with Yoko Ono and their political commitments, both of which Elliott believes were mostly positive: "By 1980, the great romance had been transformed into a great marriage." Focusing on Lennon's post-Beatles life, the author weaves together sympathetic personal and musical analyses. Though no substitute for fuller biographies--e.g., Ray Coleman's Lennon (1985)--Elliott's book provides intriguing insights into Lennon's artistic genius and personal life. Endnotes and discography are helpful. Recommended for general and academic readers, upper-division undergraduates and above. R. D. Cohen; Indiana University Northwest


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