Books: Battleground


by Michael J. Arlen

Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 231 pages


For many men, Oedipal conflict lasts long after they have resolved their feelings toward their mothers. Fathers and sons may skirmish for decades, matching physical prowess, social grace, perhaps sexual daring and, above all, worldly accomplishment. There is rarely a true reckoning; death and memory seem only to prolong the sense of contest. Sons of famous men find the scorekeeping particularly onerous: whatever the offspring's achievements, both generations are likely to suspect that the father's glory enhanced them. That...

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