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Nakari, G. (1989). Freud and Oedipus: By Peter L. Rudnytsky. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1987, 416 pp., $30.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 37:242-245.

(1989). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 37:242-245

Freud and Oedipus: By Peter L. Rudnytsky. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1987, 416 pp., $30.00.

Review by:
George Nakari, M.D.

Freud is reputed to have pointed to his bookshelf of Greek tragedies and proclaimed: "these were my teachers." The psychoanalyst's intellectual debts were of course more varied, and his teachers in general less grand than Sophocles and Aeschylus. However, despite Freud's varied intellectual origins, and his identification with numerous heroic figures from Joseph to Hannibal, it is Oedipus with whom we associate the father of psychoanalysis. And it is the identification of both Freud and his culture with the hero of Sophocles' play that Peter Rudnytsky's work, Freud and Oedipus, explores.

A beginning is the first step in the intentional production of meaning (Said, 1975p. 5). Rudnytsky, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Columbia University, has made the case for a new beginning from which the work of Freud can be situated and understood. Rudnytsky argues for a cultural "age of Oedipus" which found its apogee in Freud. The age of Oedipus, the author contends, began with the revolt against the melodramatic Latinist versions of the play (most notably Seneca's), that made Oedipus laughable to Voltaire and his Englightenment contemporaries. Gotthold Lessing and A. W. Schlegel, among others, are credited with fostering this return to Sophocles.

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