READING FREUD: Explorations and Entertainments by Peter Gay

READING FREUD: Explorations and Entertainments

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Given Gay's already substantial contribution to Freudian scholarship, the appeal of a new offering in the same vein wears thin. Nevertheless, this short compilation of published essays, newly revised and with two new pieces, functions well as a parting tribute. The author acknowledges the dangers of his fixation in a prefatory note, promising to ""leave the person of Freud behind"" next time. The essays here run the gamut from humorous to conjectural to solidly historical, and the collection is nicely balanced on the whole. ""The person of Freud"" appears in a variety of guises--the aging extremist holding firmly to a minority view that Shakespeare wasn't really the Bard from Stratford, but was rather the earl of Oxford; the quixotic reader whose list of ""ten good books,"" provided at the request of his Viennese publisher, indicates a curious mix of conventional tastes with deeply personal interests; the traditionalist father exercising the right to name his children, and whose choices offer insight into formative principles and influences of his life. These raid other facets are useful and fascinating addenda to the full biographical treatments already accorded Freud by Gay and others, while the essay format provides a responsive setting for the polished and usually provocative analyses, amply documented. As a sop to voyeurs among Freud's admirers, the matter of his possible extramarital liaison with his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, receives new consideration, based on recently available correspondence between them. In all, tasty morsels for those in the know--for the general reader, on the other hand, these will often impress as academic hairsplitting, even though charmingly composed.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press