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Solomon, M. (1973). Freud's Father on the Acropolis. Am. Imago, 30(2):142-156.

(1973). American Imago, 30(2):142-156

Freud's Father on the Acropolis

Maynard Solomon

“Strange secret yearnings rise in me—perhaps from my ancestral heritage—for the East and the Mediterranean and for a life of quite another kind: wishes from late childhood never to be fulfilled, which do not conform to reality….”

Freud to Ferenczi, March 30, 1922

“I am toying with the idea that in the perversions … we may have the remnants of a primitive sexual cult, which in the Semitic east may once have been a religion….”

Freud to Fliess, January 24, 1897

Freud possessed the usual ambivalence of great men toward the prospect of the composition of his own biography. He habitually destroyed most of his notes and manuscripts; on several occasions, he discarded virtually all of his correspondence; and it was only due to the caution of Marie Bonaparte that his letters to Fliess were preserved. Freud oscillated between concealment and confession. His An Autobiographical Study (Freud, 1925) was perhaps an effort to pre-empt the field, to write an official and notably unpsychological self-portrait. Asked by an admirer to write a more personal autobiography, Freud responded: “Your wish that I should write an intimate autobiography is not likely to be fulfilled…. Personally I ask nothing more from the world than that it should leave me in peace and devote its interest to psychoanalysis instead.” (Freud to Dr. Roy Winn, April 23, 1933). In the 1935 Postscript to An Autobiographical Study, he wrote: “The public has no claim to learn any more of my personal affairs—of my struggles, my disappointments, and my successes …” (p. 73). And in a letter of May 31st, 1936, Freud was rather overly emphatic in his response to Arnold Zweig's desire to write his biography; he states that he is “aroused by the threat that you wish to become my biographer. You who have so many more attractive and important things to do…. No, I am far too fond of you to allow such a thing to happen.

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