Conceptually, Timothy Wientzen's Automatic resembles a large, inverted pyramid. The top level describes a general conviction in the twentieth century that the human mind is governed by reflexes much like those that can be observed in the body. The next level down, slightly narrower, finds versions of and reactions to this general idea in four social developments: Bergsonian vitalism, the industry of public relations, Pavlovian physiology and behaviorism, and the discipline of sociology. The level below that is occupied by four writers—D. H. Lawrence, Wyndham Lewis, Rebecca West, and Samuel Beckett—who are matched, more or less, to the social developments above them. Finally, at the pointy end of the pyramid, four individual works by these writers—The Plumed Serpent, The Childermass, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, and Murphy—are examined in some detail. At each level, Automatic makes an interesting and useful contribution to our understanding of...

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