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Reiser, L.W. (1987). Topsy—Living and Dying: A Footnote to History. Psychoanal Q., 56:667-688.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:667-688

Topsy—Living and Dying: A Footnote to History

Lynn Whisnant Reiser, M.D.


This paper explores the significance of Marie Bonaparte's book, Topsy: The Story of a Golden Haired Chow. The manifest importance of Topsy has been attached to the fact that the Freuds translated it out of gratitude to Bonaparte and because of their love for dogs. Another level of significance emerges when the book is placed in historical context. Topsy elucidates the relationships between Marie Bonaparte, Sigmund Freud, and Anna Freud. It reflects Bonaparte's feelings about Freud's illness and is part of an ongoing dialogue with him. The persistent misplaced emphasis on the "dog story" has obscured the more profound issues. The author suggests that the conflicting needs to appreciate transience and to avoid mourning may account for both the importance of the book and for its obscurity.

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