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Strachey, J. (1951). Letter to the Editor. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:338.

(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:338

Letter to the Editor

James Strachey


There is a sentence in Dr. Martin James's very flattering review of my translation of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle in Vol. 32 (p. 248) of the Journal which calls for correction. He writes that 'Schmerz and Unlust are both rendered "Unpleasure" so that we do not any longer have to remember the difference between "Pain" and pain as we did before.'

This is not the case. The German words Schmerz and Unlust have quite different meanings. In some of the earlier translations of Freud the distinction was rendered in English by printing the word pain in inverted commas when it stood for Unlust and without them when it stood for Schmerz. This led to the greatest confusion in many passages, culminating in a sentence in 'Mourning and Melancholia' in which Freud speaks of Schmerz-Unlust. This would have had to be translated the 'pain' of pain. After many hesitations and discussions I decided that in all my translations I would systematically render Schmerz by pain and Unlust by unpleasure. And I have followed this rule in Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

Anyone who feels a literary repugnance to the word 'unpleasure' may find consolation in the fact of its having already been used by Coleridge at the beginning of the nineteenth century.


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