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The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Mark Edmundson(Author)

    Book details


A dramatic revisiting of Freud's escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna, his final days on earth, and his most controversial work―Moses and Monotheism.

When Hitler invaded Vienna in March of 1938, Sigmund Freud, old and desperately ill, was among the city's 175,000 Jews dreading Nazi occupation. The Nazis hated Sigmund Freud with a particular vehemence: they detested his "soul-destroying glorification of the instinctual life." Here Mark Edmundson traces Hitler and Freud's oddly converging lives, then zeroes in on Freud's last two years, during which, with the help of Marie Bonaparte, he was at last rescued from Vienna and brought safely to London. There he was honored as he never had been during his long, controversial life. At the same time he endured the last of more than thirty operations for cancer of the jaw. Confronting certain death, Freud, in typical fashion, did not let fame make him complacent, but instead wrote his most provocative book, Moses and Monotheism, in which he questioned the legacy of the greatest Jewish leader. Focusing on Freud's last two years, Edmundson is able to probe Freud's ideas about death, and also about the human proclivity to embrace fascism in politics and fundamentalism in religion. Edmundson suggests new and important ways to view Freud's legacy, at a time when these forces are once again shaping world events.

Expanding on his 2006 New York Times Magazine article, Freud and the Fundamentalist Urge, Edmundson develops his thesis about the lure of powerful, authoritarian leaders. He begins in 1938 Vienna on the eve of Hitler's invasion and ends less than two years later, when Freud died in London. The crux of the book comes at its very end, where Edmundson, a contributing editor at Harper's, discusses Moses and Monotheism (published in 1939), arguing for Freud's profound insights into the rise of a totalitarian, paternalistic leader like Hitler. In fact, Edmundson's aim seems even grander: to revive Freud's legacy as a sage of human nature in an intellectual climate that has moved beyond many of his ideas. But the earlier parts of the volume are thin. Edmundson adds nothing in recounting the details of Freud's life, and those facts are repeated over and over. There are some moments of sharp insight when Edmundson veers away from the biographical and delves into his own critical ideas, but these would have been better served in an article rather than incorporated into a narrative of danger, escape, illness and death. (Sept.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Freud's last book—Moses and Monotheism—has counted for little with critics, inclined to dismiss it as a product of his dotage. Edmundson, however, makes large claims for the psychologist's final work. Indeed, he interprets it as central to the dying revolutionary's bold strategy for endowing his psychoanalytic movement—deeply subversive of religion and patriarchal authority—with a quasi-religious permanence that ensured his own immortality as modernity's prophetic father. Despite his antipathy to religious faith, Freud devoted his last two years to a text reappropriating his own Jewish tradition as the wellspring of higher intellectual achievements. In rejecting the social solidity of pagan spectacles, the Hebrews—in Freud's theory—opened the door to honest exploration of the elusive individual psyche. Edmundson underscores the historical significance of Freud's paradigm by identifying its antithesis in Hitler's stunningly effective use of neopagan pageantry to incite a mass hysteria that made Vienna so politically hostile that the aging therapist had to flee. An insightful gloss on a generally neglected episode of Freud's life. Christensen, Bryce

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Book details

  • PDF | 288 pages
  • Mark Edmundson(Author)
  • Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (September 18, 2007)
  • English
  • 5
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Vegan1278 on November 20, 2012

    This engaging book chronicles Freud's last years focusing on his predicament in Nazi occupied Vienna, the steps leading to achieving his safe passage from the Gestapo, and his last months and death in England. The author shows that Hitler's rise was anticipated by Freud's psychology which revealed the human being's hunger for obedience to an "all-knowing" leader. This meditation on leadership and authority also reveals the irony that Freud, in spite of his insight, could not avoid himself playing the dominating all-knowing role with his psychoanalytic colleagues.This fine book is diminished by its kindle edition which is marred by dozens and dozens of distracting print errors. Amazon should be ashamed of selling a kindle edition in this condition.

  • By Lnda Lee Boesl on February 26, 2011

    You might be tempted to read this book, as I was, because you'd read other books by the author and had never been disappointed with his ability to teach you more than you'd imagined about the complexities of the human condition. Or you might read a book about Freud because you simply want to know more about the subject matter and its primary setting, Vienna, before, during and after the war. Or perhaps you want to know more about one of Germany's most compelling historical figures - Hitler. Regardless...what you cannot know in advance of deciding to read this book is that you will end up considering it to be one of serious consequence because of its implications for what Freud (and Edmundson?) had to say about the role of religion in modern culture's war on the human psyche. Freud's work on his final publication, "Moses and Monotheism," provides the substance for Edmundson's concluding remarks in this very accessible and enlightening text, and it is these remarks that are most relevant to our situation today. With the mid-east crises developing on our screens before us on an hourly basis, it is hard to resist the urge to photocopy the last 13 pages of "The Death of Sigmund Freud" and pass them out on street corners. I dare you.

  • By John Francis Xavier Griffin on March 14, 2017

    This book clearly sets out the last days of Freud and shares insight not known about him until now. I highly recommend this book.

  • By Guest on June 9, 2017

    Excellent book, unfortunately, there is no happy ending.

  • By Semmelweis on February 18, 2011

    This is a well written book. It was educational and informative. I know that some of you feel reviews should stop there. But those who purchase Kindle versions should know that there are many, many typos that at best disturb the flow of the reading and at worse, end up in mistakes. For instance, the Nazi who was to rule on Dr. Freud's departure from Vienna is written as Sauenvald. His name was Sauervald. Minor but anoying. There seem to be one or two per page. I would guess that the publishers just scanned and converted the text from a printed copy rather than created a separate edited file.Considering that the cost of the Kindle version is $3.00 more than the hardback, it is disappointing. I love my Kindle, but may switch back to paper if this continues to be my experience.But as for the story, it is well worth reading. Learned a lot about the Anschloss and Dr. Freud. 4-5 stars for the subject/story, 0-1 for the Kindle version.

  • By Mindstogether on April 24, 2013

    This work is well written. Its is Clear,helpful and concise depiction of Freud's insights and of the biographical events of his last years. I recommend this illuminating book without reserve. I love the wit of Freud when forced to sign a document by th SS Gestapo. "iI recommend the Gestapo to everyone."

  • By Robert Homes on August 3, 2014

    I loved this book for several reasons. It taught me some surprising things about Freud I never suspected. It also discussed interesting aspects of Vienna and Hitler and World War 2. And it is written in a delightful style. I highly recommend it.

  • By Stoic Philosopher on July 26, 2013

    Interesting and engaging story. Gives good insight into Freud at the end of his life as National Socialism was upending life in Europe as Freud had experienced it during his long lifetime. His insightful analysis of what led so many Germans to embrace their own self-destruction is compelling.The Kindle edition is filled with numerous transcription errors that they distract from the reading on a tablet. Recommend the paperback copy rather than the ebook copy. Will return my Kindle edition for a refund. The author deserves 4 stars but the Kindle edition is 3 stars because of these errors.


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