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Steiner, R. (1995). ‘Et In Arcadia Ego … ?’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:739-758.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:739-758

‘Et In Arcadia Ego … ?’

Riccardo Steiner

The author uses archival material, mainly the letters exchanged between Jones and Strachey in the fifties, when Jones was writing his biography of Freud and Strachey was working on the Standard Edition. He shows the complexity of the interaction between these two men; the more or less conscious ambivalences, motivations and resentments against the so-called Freudian establishment of that time. This per se can help us to understand how a ‘certain image’ of Freud was created in Great Britain during those years and the reasons for its authoritative persistence. Yet the paper touches on more general issues such as those of the fascination with psychoanalytic archives and the more or less accepted and admitted unconscious motivations of the interpreters of these documents too, not excluding myself. The conclusion reached is that even psychoanalytical documents do not rest in a peaceful Arcadia and that archives cannot be considered as the Arcadia of documents—at least not in the ways that Arcadia has always been considered and interpreted, misleadingly, even in two paintings by Poussin, which I refer to in my paper. These in reality remind us that in Arcadia there is death too. Even the memory that the documents should help us to conserve is ineluctably bound to loss, dissemination, mutilation and uncertainty, and therefore must also face the presence of death also.

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