Books: Secrets of Creative Nightmares

STUFF OF SLEEP AND DREAMS: EXPERIMENTS IN LITERARY PSYCHOLOGY by Leon Edel; Harper & Row; 352 pages; $20

In the Age of Analysis, we all plead innocent with an explanation. Literary critics have remained productively blameless by fitting books and authors to psychoanalytic theory. Leon Edel, 74, knows the limits of this approach. In his new work, the teacher, critic and prizewinning biographer of Henry James explains: "We take from Freud perhaps the richest part of his work, his insights into man's ways of thinking, dreaming, imagining—those elements which have also an influence on motivations and behavior."

The premise is safe and sound....

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