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Steiner, R. (1987). A World Wide International Trade Mark of Genuineness?—Some Observations on the History of the English Translation of the Work of Sigmund Freud, Focusing Mainly on his Technical Terms. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 14:33-102.

(1987). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 14:33-102

A World Wide International Trade Mark of Genuineness?—Some Observations on the History of the English Translation of the Work of Sigmund Freud, Focusing Mainly on his Technical Terms

Riccardo Steiner

SUMMARY

This is the first of a series of papers of mine which I hope will be published in the Review on the history of Strachey's translation of Freud. I have tried to reconstruct the early phases of the translation of Freud's work into English. Starting with the evidence from the documents of the Archives of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, and the correspondence between Jones and Strachey and others at the time of Freud's death, I explore what happened during the first decade of our century at the time of the first discovery and diffusion of psychoanalysis in England and America. I focus particularly on the papers of Brill and Jones, but also others, at the time when Jones went to Canada and helped Brill introduce psychoanalysis to North America. I illustrate their relationship and that with Freud, and the kind of support Freud gave to the first attempts to translate his work into English.

Translations of technical terms were based on a massive use of ancient Greek and Latin radicals. Although there is evidence that Freud also relied on the two ancient languages, there is no doubt that the translation done by Brill and Jones increased very significantly the 'scientificity' of Freud's language at that time. I have tried to place this in its historical context and to stress the tactical reasons for adopting these particular linguistic devices. I also emphasize the conscious and unconscious positive, but also less positive, ideological implications which shaped those early attempts to translate Freud, which Strachey later on had to be confronted with too.

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