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Freud, S. (1900). Letter from Freud to Fliess, May 7, 1900. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904, 412-413.

Freud, S. (1900). Letter from Freud to Fliess, May 7, 1900. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904, 412-413

Letter from Freud to Fliess, May 7, 1900 Book Information Previous Up Next

Sigmund Freud

Vienna, May 7, 1900
IX., Berggasse 19

Dear Wilhelm,

Many thanks for such cordial words! They are so flattering that I might almost believe part of them — if I were in your company. However, I see things a little differently. I would have no objection to the fact of splendid isolation1 if it were not carried too far and did not come between you and me as well. On the whole — except for one weak point, my fear of poverty — I have too much sense to complain and at present I feel too well to do so; I know what I have and I know, in view of the statistics of human misery, how little one is entitled to. But no one can replace for me the relationship with the friend which a special — possibly feminine — side demands, and inner voices to which I am accustomed to listen suggest a much more modest estimate of my work than that which you proclaim. When your book2 is published, none of us will be able to pass judgment on its truth, which, as with all great new achievements, is reserved for posterity. The beauty of its conception, though, the originality of its ideas, its simple coherence, and the assurance of the author will create an impression that will give you the first compensation for your arduous wrestling with the demon. It is different with me. No critic (not even the stupid Löwenfeld,3 the Burckhard of neuropathology4) can see more clearly than I the disparity arising from the problems and the answers to them; and it will be a fitting punishment for me that none of the unexplored regions of psychic life in which I have been the first mortal to set foot will ever bear my name or obey my laws. When it appeared that my breath would fail me in the wrestling match, I asked the angel to desist; and that is what he has done since then. But I did not turn out to be the stronger, although since then I have been limping noticeably. Yes, I really am forty-four now, an old, somewhat shabby Jew, as you will see for yourself in the summer or fall. My family nevertheless wanted to celebrate the day. My own best consolation is that I have not deprived them of all future achievements.

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