The Psychology of Everett Ruess

The following is exerpts from a book review by Gary James Bergera (SLTrib 19 Aug 2011).  The book:  Pulitzer Prize-winner Phillip L. Fradkin’s Everett Ruess: The Short Life, Mysterious Death, and Astonishing Afterlife:

Some 75 years ago, a young L.A.-based artist and poet vanished 50 miles southeast of the small southern Utah village of Escalante.  Since that chilly November of 1934, Everett Ruess has emerged in the popular imagination as a mythic wunderkind whose mysterious disappearance assures him of a place in the pantheon of misunderstood artists.

Fradkin’s analysis is . . . academic and scholarly, complete with footnotes and endnotes, . . . traditionally biographical in scope and treatment.  Fradkin plumbs the documentary sources (now, thanks to the Ruess family, housed in the Marriott Library at the University of Utah), offering an informed, nuanced analysis and appreciation of Everett.

Fradkin embraces psychology as a tool in approaching Everett. Fradkin’s tentative diagnosis builds upon previous treatments of Everett as possibly suffering from the early stages of a bipolar disorder and is compelling and insightful.  It also, unfortunately, earned Fradkin the disapprobation of Everett’s surviving nephews and nieces. Fradkin also treats in more detail and with considerable insight questions surrounding Everett’s sexual orientation.

Fradkin’s book provides clues and hints as to what may have happened to Everett in November 1934.  But the mystery endures. Everett may have summarized his own life best when he wrote six months before his disappearance: “Even when to my senses the world is not incredibly beautiful or fantastic, I am overwhelmed by the appalling strangeness and intricacy of the curiously tangled knot of life, and at the way that knot unwinds, making everything clear and inevitable, however unfortunate or wonderful.”

Everett Ruess survives today one of those rare individuals forever destined to remain an enigma, a looming spectral presence whose infectious wanderlust and love of nature and beauty resonate with each new generation.

For additional information see: https://rogerdhansen.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/a-death-in-the-southwest/

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This entry was posted in Books, Personalities, Travel, utah. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Psychology of Everett Ruess

  1. susan says:

    I have read a few books about Everett Ruess. I found the topic extremely fascinating. I would have loved to have met the guy. However, when I heard about 2 new books (article in SL Opinion page, Sunday, August 21, 2011) I still have to ask the question: is there are whole lot of new information out there about Everett Ruess that hasn’t already been written?

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