If I were a snob, a liar, a drunk, a philanderer, an anti-Semite, a violent bully, a poseur and a menace to the vulnerable, I would want Linda Hopkins to write my biography.
Masud Khan, an Anglo-Pakistani psychoanalyst notable in the 1960s and ’70s, was all of those things. Hopkins, a psychologist and psychoanalyst, has written the story of his life with the kind of generous forgiveness, insistent evenhandedness, patient understanding and restrained judgment one might hope for in a very good analyst of a certain kind, or a wise, exceptionally forbearing and insightful mother. She sees his life as a tragedy, lived “on a scale grand enough to match … his favorite characters: Shakespeare’s King Lear and Dostoyevsky’s Prince Myshkin.” Khan also identified with Dostoyevsky himself and was particularly pleased when one of his later girlfriends showed signs (briefly) of living up to the high benchmark of Anna Dostoyevsky’s devotion (“so robust and militant in her loving regard for her husband’s nobility of soul,” as he put it).
Hopkins describes Khan’s Dostoyevsky delusion as she does his lies about being a Pakistani prince; his drunken rages; his sleeping with patients, with patients’ wives and with the daughters of friends — always more in sorrow than in anger, and with the reminder that Khan may well have suffered from a bipolar disorder.