October 29, 1979 12:00 PM

Ralph Steadman

Consciously, this book is about Freud’s life. Subconsciously, it’s about humor. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In any case, Steadman, a British cartoonist with a rapierlike line, freely interprets the great man’s theories. “A sex joke,” he notes, “enables you to state a hidden wish to members of the opposite sex without sounding blatantly disgusting…or positively perverted!” But the marvel of this volume—and it is marvelous—are the illustrations, which are by turns funny (Freud as an army private), outrageous (a sex-crazed patient on Freud’s couch), grotesque (a hideous phobia figure, part snake, part bat), disgusting (Freud with his nose up the nostril of a friend) and beautiful (a lovely drawing of a park with a Ferris wheel). Steadman is an illustrator of unmatched range and power. (Paddington, $17.95)

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