Daniel Rancour-Laferriere is emeritus professor of Russian at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Out from Under Gogol's Overcoat: A Psychoanalytic Study, The Mind of Stalin: A Psychoanalytic Study, The Slave Soul of Russia: Moral Masochism and the Cult of Suffering, Tolstoy's Pierre Bezukhov: A Psychoanalytic Study, Tolstoy on the Couch: Misogyny, Masochism, and the Absent Mother, and Russian Nationalism from an Interdisciplinary Perspective.
Bringing to light dozens of examples of self-defeating activities and behaviors that have become an integral component of the Russian psyche, Rancour-Laferriere convincingly illustrates how masochism has become a fact of everyday life in Russia. Until now, much attention has been paid to the psychology of Russia's leaders and their impact on the country's condition. Here, for the first time, is a compelling portrait of the Russian people's psychology.
Imagining Mary breaks new ground in the long tradition of Christian mariology. The book is an interdisciplinary investigation of some of the many Marys, East and West, from the New Testament Mary of Nazareth down to Our Lady of the Good Death in the twentieth century. In Imagining Mary, Professor Rancour-Laferriere examines the mother of God in her multireligious and pan-historical context.
The book is a scholarly study, but it is written in a clear, straightforward style and will be comprehensible to an educated – and, above all, intellectually curious – general audience. It will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered, for example, about the flimsy scriptural basis of many beliefs about Mary; or the tendency of many mariologists to depict Mary as an incestuous "bride of Christ"; or the theological notion of Mary’s "loving consent" to her son’s crucifixion; or the idea that Mary was a "priest" officiating at the sacrifice of her son; or the unfortunate association of Mary with Christian anti-semitism; or the curious appeal of Mary to the terminally ill; and so on. Special attention is given to the psychology of representations of Mary, such as: the psychological basis for promoting Mary to the status of a "goddess"; the psychology of Mary’s compassion for her son at the foot of the cross; and the psychological conflict in Mary’s personal relationship with her son Jesus.
These topics are admittedly diverse, but they all have long been on the minds of mariologists. The author takes a questioning approach to received wisdom about marian themes – including the assumption that one has to be a theist in order to understand the great appeal of Mary down the centuries. Indeed, Imagining Mary may be regarded as a first step in the direction of an atheist mariology.