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Ginsburg, L.M. (1997). An “Unremembered” Book from Freud's Juvenile Era. Ann. Psychoanal., 25:249-260.

(1997). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 25:249-260

An “Unremembered” Book from Freud's Juvenile Era

Lawrence M. Ginsburg, JD

In a revelation, anonymously written in 1920 about himself, Sigmund Freud stated that “when he was fourteen, he had been given Börne's works as a present, that he still possessed the book now, fifty years later, and that it was the only one that had survived from his boyhood. Börne, he said, had been the first author whose writings he had penetrated deeply. He could not remember the essay in question.” Corresponding with Sándor Ferenczi a year earlier (1919), he recalled having acquired the volume in question “very early as a present, perhaps for my 13th birthday” (p. 344). According to Jones (1953), one of Börne's essays “had sunk into Freud's mind and played its part twenty years later in stimulating him to give his patients' thoughts free play” (p. 246).

Forgotten throughout the successive editions of The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), whose revisions were subject to Freud's personal direction, was the identity of “the first novel I ever read (when I was thirteen perhaps)” (p. 204). Grinstein (1980) has postulated a number of considerations that may account for Freud's ostensible repression of “the title, the author and the plot of the novel Hypatia” (p. 190).

The goal of this chapter is to provide a modest introduction to another “unremembered” work containing one of the earliest holographic declarations that seems to have been authored by Freud as a schoolboy. It is evident that he used the text to develop a reading knowledge of French during his adolesence in much the same manner as the Exemplary Novels by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedras served as a primer for learning Spanish. How the book under consideration, which appears to have been conceived for a predominantly female readership, might have informed Freud's sensibilities or affected his later theoretical work merits further exploration.

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