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Dupont, J. (1995). The Story Of A Transgression. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:823-834.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:823-834

The Story Of A Transgression

Judith Dupont

The publication of a private correspondence cannot proceed without some serious problems. In spite of all possible justifications, one cannot be free of some guilt feelings in reading and publishing writings intended just for one single reader.

Very likely it was this guilt feeling that prompted Ernst Falzeder, one of the editors of the Freud-Ferenczi Correspondence, to put as epigraph to the book the following quotation from Heinrich Heine's Memories (the epigraph did not appear in the English-language version): “It is a forbidden and immoral action to publish even one single line that the author did not mean for a large public; this applies especially to letters addressed to private persons. The one who gets them printed commits a disloyalty that deserves contempt.”

A very severe judgment, not easily contested. The arguments we can cite in our defense are not numerous: the wish of Gizella, Ferenczi's widow, to have these letters published; but she is not one of the authors. The historical interest: but how much time should pass before a life becomes history? Who should decide that? Does respect for the science of history permit such a transgression?

Very likely Ferenczi, were the spiritualist experiments that interested him so much during his lifetime to finally prove effective and allow us to consult with him, would give us his agreement. But it is less certain that Freud would do so. Has he not written somewhere that he does not intend to facilitate the task of his biographers? We know also that when Marie Bonaparte succeeded in buying his letters to Fliess, Freud charged her to destroy them.

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