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Paikin, H. (1998). Samlade skrifter av Sigmund Freud [The Collected Works of Sigmund Freud] Volumes I-IV.: Stockholm: Natur och Kultur. 1996-98. Pp. 640, 714, 653, 655. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:1245-1248.

(1998). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 79:1245-1248

Samlade skrifter av Sigmund Freud [The Collected Works of Sigmund Freud] Volumes I-IV.: Stockholm: Natur och Kultur. 1996-98. Pp. 640, 714, 653, 655

Review by:
Henning Paikin

To publish Freud's Collected Works in Swedish amounts to a cultural event in Scandinavia. In an international context, Swedish is a linguistically small area (even though Swedish can be read and understood in the other two Scandinavian countries, Denmark and Norway), but the above publication has a number of qualities that justify mention in this journal. Also, any new translation of Freud's work is in itself a contribution to the current debate concerning the specific problems associated with the translation of Freud's language.

For the past twenty years, beginning with Mahony (1977), Ornston (1982) and Bettelheim (1983), there has been a critical focus on Strachey's Standard Edition. The literature on the translation of Freud into English is so voluminous that a survey would be outside the scope of this review; a few comments will suffice.

An often heard criticism is that Freud's particular language and style have not been taken sufficiently into consideration. Freud used the living German everyday language with all its emotional connotations and ambiguities, while Strachey in his translation, as is well known, to a certain extent chose Latinised artificial words. As Bettelheim says, the result was that Freud's texts lost their soul (one might even say that they became ‘mindless’!). To mention just one example, the personal ‘Ich’ [I] became the impersonal abstract ‘Ego’, with many fewer associations.

Even though it may be a truism—especially for analysts—and has often been mentioned in various contexts, it should be emphasised again that any translation is an interpretation.

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