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(1969). Some Early Unpublished Letters of Freud. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:419-427.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:419-427

Some Early Unpublished Letters of Freud


This collection of letters to Emil Fluss written by Sigmund Freud at the age of 16, 17 and 18, is among the earliest of Freud's writings to have been preserved. But what gives them their greatest significance is the manner in which they bear vivid testimony to his personality.

The friendly relationship between the two families—Freud and Fluss—goes back to the time before Jacob Freud left Freiberg in 1859. Sigmund was then three years old and it was not until he was 16 that he returned, for the first time, to his home-town, in the company of two friends, to spend his holidays there as a guest of the Fluss family. There were three brothers, Emil, Richard and Alfred, and two sisters. Of Gisela, the younger one, Freud writes to his fiancée in his (unpublished) letter of 28 October 1883:

Did I ever tell you that Gisela was my first love when I was but 16 years old? No? Well, then you can have a good laugh at me, firstly on account of my taste and also because I never spoke a meaningful, much less an amiable word to the child. Looking back, I would say that seeing my old home-town again had made me feel sentimental.

The letters have a strange history which is well worth mentioning. In the 1930s they were offered for sale to Dorothy Burlingham in Vienna, who bought them and gave them as a present to her friend Anna Freud. The pages of these letters, now almost 100 years old, were faded and the writing almost illegible. This may explain why they had remained comparatively unknown.

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