“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” —Sigmund Freud
Just Because You’re a Pessimist, Doesn’t Mean Things Are Rosy…
Author and psychoanalyst Allen Wheelis was called a pessimist, even by his wife. A noted writer with fourteen published fiction and non-fiction books, as well as pieces for The New Yorker and many professional journals, he was a Columbia University Physicians and Surgeons-graduated psychologist who served as a medical officer in the US Navy in WWII—and then did substantial post-doctoral work to become a psychoanalyst. Perhaps precisely because Manhattan is probably the second most analyst-dense place after Vienna, Austria, Wheelis moved west to San Francisco and practiced into his nineties, pessimism and all.
The Seeker is an early 1960s Signet novel by Wheelis for which Clark Hulings contributed the cover. Although Wheelis’ work was considered to be very insightful by the literary world, the premise of this book is a good one for mid-century trade paperback fiction. An analyst goes through a crisis of meaning, and he leaves his Vermont professional life and family in search of big money and wayward attachments in Beverly Hills. Eventually, life pushes him to come to terms with many of his desires and disappointments.
Without being overly highbrow about it, Hulings has created a cover illustration that teases the story perfectly. He has placed the troubled psychoanalyst in the bottom right of the frame, giving him a larger-than-usual amount of “headspace.” The handsome protagonist has removed his reading glasses and is considering the space beyond his office. The bright sunlight of the outside world is a dirty yellow by the time it reaches the office wall, suggesting the possibility of a tarnished mental state for the analyst and his practice. Hulings’ signature red accents are visible in the five volumes on the wall and the seal on the framed diploma; the purple books pop out as a complementary color to the wall and curtains.
Hulings created hundreds of commercial illustrations, and we are always on the lookout for the originals, from Vermont to California…or Vienna, for that matter. Let us know if you know where this one is.