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Magherini, G. (1990). Peter Gay. Freud. Una vita per i nostri tempi Bompiani, Milano, 1988, 750 pages, 40.000 lire.. Rivista Psicoanal., 36(3):780-796.

(1990). Rivista di Psicoanalisi, 36(3):780-796

Peter Gay. Freud. Una vita per i nostri tempi Bompiani, Milano, 1988, 750 pages, 40.000 lire. Language Translation

Review by:
Graziella Magherini

Peter Gay is a scholar with a grounding in many disciplines. This observation provides a suitable introduction to this review of his great biography Freud. Una vita per i nostri tempi (original title: Freud. A Life for Our Time, Dent, London, 1988; translated from the English by M. Cerletti Novelletto, foreword by A. Novelletto, Bompiani, Milano, 1988), which almost forty years after Ernest Jones's The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud was published in New York in 1953 (translation published by Saggiatore in 1962) paints a sweeping picture of Freud's life and work. In the last few years, Gay, a lecturer in history at Yale University, has been making something of a name for himself with a series of notable works combining history and his psychoanalytic background. His biography of Freud was a long time in the making, it is the rich, ripe fruit of many lateral and converging considerations, a feat Gay has been working up to in the course of his work as an historian of ideas and of the ways in which ideas and forms of culture are embodied in the lives of people and determine the shaping of experience in a given epoch. Because of the pressing methodological problems it raises, this biography of Freud must be related to other already completed or soon-to-be completed studies both of Freud (for example A Godless Jew. Freud, Atheism and the Making of Psychoanalysis (1987), Italian translation published by Mulino (1989)) and Freud's time, the actual historical period of his life, and the time he marked with his genius. It is useful to put this biography into context, in order to answer the preliminary question I wish to raise: why has this biography been written, and what distinguishes it from Jones's earlier biography, which is the only work it can be compared with in terms of size, quality and the effort required to produce it.

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