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Slochower, H. (1971). Freud's Gradiva: Mater Nuda Rediviva—A Wish-Fulfilment of the 'Memory' on the Acropolis. Psychoanal Q., 40:646-662.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 40:646-662

Freud's Gradiva: Mater Nuda Rediviva—A Wish-Fulfilment of the 'Memory' on the Acropolis

Harry Slochower, Ph.D.

Freud composed Delusions and Dreams in Jensen's Gradiva (6) two years after he made the journey to the Acropolis which became the theme of his Open Letter to Romain Rolland (7) thirty-two years later, cited hereafter as The Letter. He devoted over ninety pages to a minor work which is almost unknown outside of the psychoanalytic community. In fact, nineteen years later, Freud himself refers to Jensen's novel as having 'no particular merit in itself', playing down characteristically a work of autobiographical import (8p. 65). Yet there is no other minor literary work to which Freud gave the detailed and affectionate appreciation he devotes here. And my paper will try to show that Freud's fascination with Jensen's Gradiva arises from a personal problem with which he wrestled at this time—a problem mobilized by the disturbance he experienced when he made the journey to the Acropolis two years before. In my paper, Freud's Déjà Vu on the Acropolis: A Symbolic Relic of 'Mater Nuda' (25), I indicated that Freud sought a symbolic union with his mother on the Acropolis. But even the symbolic nature of this quest brought feelings of estrangement. And the point of this discussion is that in Gradiva Freud found the story of a journey which has striking parallels to his own—with this crucial difference: Jensen's story shows the hero's love object as 'rediviva', as 'dug out of the ruins again' (6p. 39) and, at the end, they are reunited.

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