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Larsen, K. (1999). Behind the Scenes. Freud in Correspondence: P. Mahony, C. Bonomi and J. Stenson, editors. Scandinavian University Press, Oslo, 1997. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(1):138-142.

(1999). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 22(1):138-142

Behind the Scenes. Freud in Correspondence: P. Mahony, C. Bonomi and J. Stenson, editors. Scandinavian University Press, Oslo, 1997

Review by:
Kim Larsen

Freud's correspondence forms an essential supplement to his works. In the book under review, Andre Haynal states that Freud's letters allow us to “follow his thoughts in status nascendi and perceive the experiences that induced his reflections. Furthermore, the cpistemology behind his method is exhibited, as he is less guarded than in his articles and books, or other texts intended for publication” (p. 116). His correspondence also offers a unique perspective on his personal relations and on the dramas that the pioneers of psychoanalysis frequently were involved in. The problem, however, is that early editions of Freud's correspondence were abridged, adapted and censored, often with no indication of passages where something had been left out. Furthermore, other parts of the text were liable to misinterpretation whenever either correspondent referred to something assumed to be known to the recipient - but which had actually been edited out. Thus, the traces of the invisible editing became transparent. Freud's correspondence with Carl Jung was the first to appear in something approaching complete form, and the first not to implement the omissions suggested by Anna Freud. The correspondences published until then - those with Wilhelm Fliess (Bonaparte, A. Freud & Kris, 1950), Oskar Pfister (Ernst Freud & Heinrich Meng, 1963) and Karl Abraham (Hilda Abraham & Ernst Freud, 1965) - had been “tampered with” by the editors. This is equally true of Ernst Freud's anthology The Letters of Sigmund Freud (1961). The publication of the correspondence with Jung (McGuire, 1974) seems to have marked a turning point, not only in that suggestions for editing were rejected, but also in regard to the brilliant footnote apparatus, in itself a contribution to the understanding of the history of psychoanalysis.

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