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Feldman, A.B. (1953). The Confessions of William Shakespeare. Am. Imago, 10(2):113-166.

(1953). American Imago, 10(2):113-166

The Confessions of William Shakespeare

A. Bronson Feldman, Ph.D.


“Shakespeare,” says Hanns Sachs in the reminiscences of his many years of collaboration with the founder of psychoanalysis (Freud: Master and Friend, 1945, p. 108), “was the most frequent topic of our discussions when they turned to literature. Freud's remarks about the Oedipus complex in Hamlet had fallen on fertile ground… Somewhat later Freud turned his attention to other plays: to Richard III and Macbeth in ‘Some Character-types Encountered in Psychoanalysis,’ and to The Merchant of Venice in ‘The Motive of the Choice of the Caskets.’ Several of his disciples, myself among them, followed his example and found rich analytic pasture in Shakespeare's plays. In our discussions he made me notice how Shakespeare, although a master in displaying or concealing his technique of motivation at will, is not, like Ibsen, mechanically conscientious about it. He throws logic and consequence to the winds and courts contradictions if they suit the emotional situation… Freud later gave credence to the story that the author of Shakespeare's work was a scion of the old and noble line of De Vere. He lent me the book which presented and defended this new hypothesis (‘Shakespeare’ Identified in Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, by J. Thomas Looney), but I remained unconvinced.

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