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Martin, L.C. (1920). A Note on Hazlitt. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:414-419.

(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:414-419

A Note on Hazlitt

L. C. Martin

Freud's theory of the unconscious, which has been before the world for many years but which until recently has been known to few outside an esoteric group of professional psychologists and mental specialists, is to-day attracting the interest of an ever widening circle of those who recognize its general philosophical importance or its practical bearing on many problems of social life. So far, however, it seems to have lacked the last and crowning reward of new intellectual departure — an academic dissertation seeking to prove that the theory is after all as old as the hills, and allowing its author a certain grudging credit for his enunciation of what oft was thought but ne'er so well or so honestly expressed. It may be that the academician is in the present instance really at fault through the apparent absence of all but the most vague and crude prophecy, or that such anticipations of the Freudian theory as he may be able to quote would serve rather to illustrate its inherent reasonableness than to detract from its originality. But should the work ever be undertaken it seems probable that some stress will be laid in it on the fact that the most subtle, penetrating, and independent of the early nineteenth century critics in England had grasped, though tentatively and without system, at several of the fundamental ideas of a psychology to which Freud has given a more scientific framework, and more precise and coherent formulation.

An American author, Mr. Albert Mordell, writing on "The Erotic Motive in Literature", in 1919, has already pointed out the striking anticipations of Freud's dream theory in Hazlitt's essay "On Dreams" in "The Plain Speaker":

The power of prophecying or foreseeing things in our sleep, as from a higher and more abstracted sphere of thought need not be here argued upon.

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