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Rudnytsky, P.L. (2004). Preface. Am. Imago, 61(1):1-5.

(2004). American Imago, 61(1):1-5


Peter L. Rudnytsky

Psychoanalysts are always returning to Freud. Even for those who may question Freud's views on such issues as the drives or female sexuality, or take him to task for one or another of his human failings, there can be little doubt that in order to understand psychoanalysis there is no substitute for a deep and repeated immersion in his texts. Freud's life and work are likewise endless sources of inspiration for intellectual historians and scholars in every branch of the human sciences.

The present issue of American Imago is a contribution to Freud studies unified by the multiple meanings of the phrase “picturing Freud.” The three major essays all deal with Freud and the visual arts. In “Forgetting Signorelli: Monstrous Visions of the Resurrection of the Dead,” Margaret E. Owens goes back to the origins of psychoanalysis by examining Freud's visit to Orvieto in September 1897 in which he saw the frescoes of Luca Signorelli and climbed into an Etruscan tomb, incidents to which he subsequently reverted (without ever drawing a connection between them) in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (as well as his 1898 paper “The Psychical Mechanism of Forgetfulness”) and The Interpretation of Dreams. Owens's discussion of this material takes off from a Lacanian analysis by Anthony Wilden published in 1966 in American Imago, and her own paper is a model of how a Lacanian perspective can be fused with rigorous scholarship and clear writing. Although Owens is by profession a literary scholar and not an art historian, the heart of her paper is its formidable second section in which she turns from Freud's notorious forgetting of the name Signorelli to situate Signorelli's frescoes of The Resurrection of the Dead, painted between 1499 and 1504, in their aesthetic and theological context.

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