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Richards, A.D. (2019). A Childhood Dream Fulfilled. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 67(5):935-937.

(2019). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 67(5):935-937

Why I Write

A Childhood Dream Fulfilled

Arnold D. Richards

Books made up my world from a very early age. While growing up, being a reader was inseparable from being myself. I wanted to be a writer from as far back as I can remember. In childhood and youth, I spent hours absorbed in reading and study at the Brooklyn Public Library in Grand Army Plaza. My earliest literary memory is reading in the Yiddish Forward, at the age of five, about the death of Sigmund Freud. I can even trace the beginning of my interest in becoming a psychoanalyst to that time.

I have often thought about the role of identification in my love of reading and my dreams of writing. In our core development we see the ways of being a self reflected in people we admire. My father's influence on me and my identification with him were both literary. As a librarian in a unit of Trotsky's army during the Russian revolution, he was in charge of a cart carrying books to the soldiers, though it pained him that in those days most of the soldiers were unable to read. He loved Russian literature—Gogol, Pushkin, Turgenev, Tolstoy. And he hoped I would read the great Russians in the original. Though he did not succeed in teaching me Russian, he did convey his love of literature to me, and I learned to read and write in Yiddish as well as English. Being bilingual increased my sensitivity to the nuances of language and eventually served me well as a writer.

Among the great authors who were my childhood heroes was the Yiddish writer Isaac Metzger. I read his children's books in Yiddish.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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