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Kool, S. (2014). At the Still Point of the Turning World: Freud's Reception of Winckelmann's Greece. Psychoanal. Hist., 16(2):137-152.

(2014). Psychoanalysis and History, 16(2):137-152


At the Still Point of the Turning World: Freud's Reception of Winckelmann's Greece

Sharon Kool, B.A, M.A., Ph.D.

Among the Greeks we feel ourselves immediately at home, for we are in the region of spirit, and though the origin of the nation, as also its philological peculiarities, may be traced farther - even to India - the proper emergence, the true palingenesis of spirit must be looked for in Greece first.

Hegel (1952, p. 259)

Freud's references to classical history and literature are so numerous that James Strachey, the editor of the Standard Edition, found it necessary to offer an explanation for the extensive editorial commentary he included in his edition:

Freud was a striking example of a man equally at home in both of what have been called the ‘two cultures’. He was not only an expert neuro-anatomist and physiologist; he was also widely read in the Greek and Latin classics as well as in the literatures of his own language and in those of England, France, Italy and Spain. Most of his allusions may have been immediately intelligible to his contemporaries in Vienna, but are quite beyond the range of a modern English-speaking reader. (Strachey, 1966, p. xvi)

Strachey's claim that Freud's classical allusions may have been immediately intelligible to his Viennese contemporaries, but are now inaccessible to a modern English-speaking readership, illustrates the prominent position of philhellenism in Austria and Germany. Freud's use of classical knowledge situates him within the tradition of classical Bildung.

[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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