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Zweig, A. (1934). Letter from Arnold Zweig to Sigmund Freud, May 12, 1934. The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 84:76-79.

(1934). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 84:76-79

Letter from Arnold Zweig to Sigmund Freud, May 12, 1934 Book Information Previous Up Next

Arnold Zweig

12. v. 34

The first Iceman,1 but a glorious summer day; the garden in front of my window is truly a place in which ‘to die in beauty’. I am wondering whether I should advise for or against the execution of your plan. I am much more clearly conscious of my inclinations against the project than the reasons for it. But no doubt it will not matter what I say. The poetic urge, if it's strong enough, will prove itself stronger.

It seems to me that we touch here on the problem of poetic licence versus historical truth. I know my feelings on this point are thoroughly conservative. Where there is an unbridgeable gap in history and biography, the writer can step in and try to guess how it all happened. In an uninhabited country he may be allowed to establish the creatures of his imagination. Even when the historical facts are known but sufficiently remote and removed from common knowledge, he can disregard them. Thus it cannot be held against Shakespeare that in about the year 1000 Macbeth was a just and benevolent king of Scotland. But on the other hand, where reality is firmly established and has become common property, the writer should respect it. When B. Shaw makes his Caesar stand and gape at a stony Sphinx just as though he were a Cook's tourist and forget to take leave of Cleopatra when he leaves Egypt, he proves to us what a clown he is and that a joke means more to him than anything. The historical Caesar summoned Cleopatra to Rome after the birth of her son Caesarion and there she remained till her flight after Caesar's murder.

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