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The Mourning of John Lennon [Paperback]

Anthony Elliott
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 17 1999
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.

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From Library Journal

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.ALloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

"The Mourning of John Lennon is the deepest and most thoughtful book on popular culture and the culture of celebrity to appear in a long time. It explores Lennon's emotional and artistic complexity with rare insight and intelligence. Desire and fear, freedom and pain, irony and nostalgia, rebellion and loss are analyzed not only in Lennon's life and work, but also in the generation that grew up with him."--Jon Wiener, author of Come Together

"John Lennon's death has left an appreciation of loss. Yet, through Elliott's book, we recover a powerful sense of those qualities--honesty and idealism, irreverence and excitement--that Lennon represented while he was alive. It's a story we should take heart from."--Paul Du Noyer, author of We All Shine On

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive April 29 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Having read the two previous reviews, I got a chance to look at the book in the Cleveland Public Library. It is a great source, and a nice addition to the other Lennon books out on the market. It is well researched and gives a clear (although somewhat academic) portrait of an artist worthy of an indepth study. I would highly reccomend to other Lennonologists.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moving. April 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is unlike any Lennon book I've read before. It is intuitive and emotionally vivid in its description of Lennon. Beyond the myth of Lennon's "Beatle John" image, The Mourning of John Lennon manages to give you a powerful sense of what his life was about - up close and personal. Fantastic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT May 26 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read this book and I believe it is a great analysis on the life of John Lennon. I appreciate the fact that the first reviewer has their own opinion on the book but it is really not a waste of time. I highly recommend this book!!!!!
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1.0 out of 5 stars This book is a waste of time March 16 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is a psychoanalysis of John Lennon's life and songs. It is a waste of time and one of the worst books I have ever read about John Lennon. Give me a break!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive April 29 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having read the two previous reviews, I got a chance to look at the book in the Cleveland Public Library. It is a great source, and a nice addition to the other Lennon books out on the market. It is well researched and gives a clear (although somewhat academic) portrait of an artist worthy of an indepth study. I would highly reccomend to other Lennonologists.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving. April 12 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is unlike any Lennon book I've read before. It is intuitive and emotionally vivid in its description of Lennon. Beyond the myth of Lennon's "Beatle John" image, The Mourning of John Lennon manages to give you a powerful sense of what his life was about - up close and personal. Fantastic.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT May 26 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book and I believe it is a great analysis on the life of John Lennon. I appreciate the fact that the first reviewer has their own opinion on the book but it is really not a waste of time. I highly recommend this book!!!!!
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Needed editing April 22 2008
By Violetta1485 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book has some interesting analysis of Lennon's work, but it is cluttered with post-modern jargon, odd wording, and badly-researched claims.
p. 41 Elliott confuses Freud's "primal scene" (accidentally viewing parents having sex) with Janov's "primal scream," which involved *any* key childhood trauma, quite often non-sexual in nature.
p. 84 Elliott states "some critics...suggest[ ]that he [John] actually beat up women, including his first wife." No need to suggest: in the Hunter Davies '60s Beatles bio, both Lennon and then-wife Cynthia openly discussed his violent episodes during their dating days. Although Cynthia later back-tracked in her book _John_, indicating that this was an isolated incident, in the Davies book both John and Cynthia gave the impression that he was violent more than once, on one occasion shocking a cleaning lady who witnessed his behavior and later warned Cynthia not to get involved with a person like that.
p. 116 and elsewhere Elliott uses "sedimenting" where one would use "cementing," as in, "cementing his image." Is this a regional slang usage or just bad proofing?
All in all, it reads like a dissertation hastily adapted for publication.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Read a better book on Lennon from one who was there March 17 2009
By Robert Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I thought this book was filled with baloney.
He also trashes one of the best books I've ever read on Lennon by Seamans.
Read the book by Seamans; The last days of John Lennon. That author WAS REALLY THERE!
Elliot is just cashing in on the Lennon name to sell his opinions on events he was not there to witness.
Maybe the Seaman's book presents truths people don't want to hear; exploding the myths about Yoko and the "great love" between Lennon and Yoko which fizzled.
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