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Veszy-Wagner, L. (1963). Thalassa: Psychanalyse Des Origines De La Vie Sexuelle: By Sandor Ferenczi. (Paris: Petite Bibliothèque Payot, No. 28, 1962. Pp. 186.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:382.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:382

Thalassa: Psychanalyse Des Origines De La Vie Sexuelle: By Sandor Ferenczi. (Paris: Petite Bibliothèque Payot, No. 28, 1962. Pp. 186.)

Review by:
L. Veszy-Wagner

This long overdue first French edition of Ferenczi's Thalassa (1924) deserves the sincerest compliments on the part of the psycho-analytic movement. This imaginative and brilliant work was, in its time, a milestone in the history of psycho-analytical theory. The presentation, by the devoted labours of its editor, M. N. Abraham, is exemplary in its kind. Both the erudite translations (by MM. J. Dupont and S. Samama, and Mlle Grin), obviously supervised by the Hungarian-born editor, are up to the mark, tidy and clear, The editing itself is as scholarly and precise as to set an example. The pleasing paper-back edition comprises a comparison of the different texts and their modifications, a short chronological table (both biographical and bibliographical), a dexterously abbreviated yet explicit and clear-cut index which contains also the concise definitions of the neologisms used by Ferenczi, and, above all, an excellent preface by the editor. M. N. Abraham stresses the historical and theoretical importance of Ferenczi's work, emphasizing his 'orthodox view' in which he was 'more Freudian than the master himself': that the repetition compulsion stemmed not, as Freud later would have it, from the death instinct, but from the life instinct, i.e. from the libidinal need to repeat pleasurable experiences. The editor also points out that Ferenczi was the first to search for the biological foundations of the 'mysterious leap' in hysterical conversion from the mind into the soma, thus extending psycho-analytical theory into the domain of biology and laying the foundation of a theory of symbolism, inseparably linked with the postulates of the pleasure principle. This, according to him, is based on the paradigm of the body's ability to be used for symbolizing the unconscious, by creating an archaic, pre-verbal language. Whatever our present views on this subject may be, we are bound to accept the pioneer value of Ferenczi's work and appreciate the merits of M. N. Abraham's painstaking endeavour to rekindle our interest in Ferenczi's ideas and bring them nearer to our present-day thinking.

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