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Allen, Barney (1902–1967) By Betts, G.

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM618-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 21 April 2024, from


Barney Allen was the pseudonym of Solomon Allen, a Jewish-Canadian novelist from Toronto, Ontario. His writing combined influences from James Joyce and Sigmund Freud. His 1929 novel They Have Bodies was especially influenced by avant-garde experimentation. The book provoked a sensation in Toronto for its unflattering and hyper-sexualized depiction of the local moneyed class, and the local constabulary seized copies in the city. The book effectively disappeared from public attention. Subsequent titles by Allen, as a result, backed away from such literary radicalism in favour of increasingly populist prose and medical discourse. Allen remained deeply interested in both Freudian psychoanalysis, with its sexual preoccupation, and the physical body. His five novels — which all feature a gynaecologist as protagonist or main character — each advance a central thesis about the importance of directly and forthrightly acknowledging the naturalness of both sexual desires and the physical body. Towards this end, he also organized a ‘couples retreat’ north of Toronto to study psychoanalysis together in a sex-positive environment.

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Betts, G.. Allen, Barney (1902–1967). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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