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Freud, S. (1936). Letter from Sigmund Freud to Arnold Zweig, May 31, 1936. The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 84:127-128.

(1936). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 84:127-128

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Arnold Zweig, May 31, 1936 Book Information Previous Up Next

Sigmund Freud

Vienna IX, Berggasse 19
31. 5. 1936

Dear Meister Arnold,

‘The world's tenderness is indeed mixed with cruelty.’ For two weeks now I have been using up every odd half-hour with filling up cards of thanks, like the one enclosed, and adding a few words or sentences underneath my signature, stilted and forced for the most part, and only today, on the first day of the pleasant Whitsun holiday, can I settle down and write you a letter, alarmed by the threat that you want to become my biographer—you, who have so much better and more important things to do, you who can establish monarchs and who can survey the brutal folly of mankind from a lofty vantage point; no, I am far too fond of you to permit such a thing. Anyone who writes a biography is committed to lies, concealments, hypocrisy, flattery and even to hiding his own lack of understanding, for biographical truth does not exist, and if it did we could not use it.

Truth is unobtainable, mankind does not deserve it, and in any case is not our Prince Hamlet right when he asks who would escape whipping were he used after his desert?

Thomas Mann's visit, the address he presented me with, the public lecture he delivered in my honour were gratifying and impressive events. Even my Viennese colleagues honoured me, and betrayed by all manner of signs how much against the grain it went. The Minister of Education delivered polite, formal congratulations and then the Austrian newspapers were threatened with confiscation if they reported his tribute inside the country. Numerous articles in newspapers at home and abroad expressed their repudiation and hatred clearly enough. One could thus establish with satisfaction that honesty has not yet quite vanished from the earth.

For me the date naturally marks no epoch; I am the same as before. Among the not very numerous gifts of antiques I received, your very remarkable signet ring gave me pleasure.

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