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Wilson, E., Jr. (1989). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLVII, 1983: The French Edition of the Works of Freud: An Insurmountable Resistance? Roger Dufresne. Pp. 1247-1256.. Psychoanal Q., 58:326-327.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLVII, 1983: The French Edition of the Works of Freud: An Insurmountable Resistance? Roger Dufresne. Pp. 1247-1256.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:326-327

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLVII, 1983: The French Edition of the Works of Freud: An Insurmountable Resistance? Roger Dufresne. Pp. 1247-1256.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

Dufresne notes with pleasure the appearance of translations of works of Freud which had hitherto not been available in French, as well as re-editions of works already translated. Although the earlier translations had great value in making Freud available to French readers, they were done before the French psychoanalytic terminology was well worked out, and when the requirements of translation were much less rigorous. For the contemporary reader these early translations present many risks; some are hardly usable, except for a first reading or quick review, without constant reference to the original or to Strachey's Standard Edition in English. Yet the proliferation of new translations carries with it certain problems. It would have been better, Dufresne suggests, if the works were to have reference not only to the German but also to the English Standard Edition, because so many French writers refer to it and cite it frequently. Many of the new translations are misleadingly presented, and are actually detailed commentaries on the text. This suggests that the goal of the translation is to introduce the commentary rather than to facilitate the encounter between Freud and the reader. Many of the new translations seem to ignore the fact that earlier translations have been made. The result is chaos and anarchy. Unless students know enough German to read the original, or enough English to use the Standard Edition, they are effectively deprived of access to Freud. A French Standard Edition is needed. It should take as its model Strachey's Standard Edition. The German version is, with certain exceptions, very close to the original, but it is not the best edition; the original publications, corrected by Freud himself, were destroyed by the Nazis in 1938. Errors accumulated in the work carried on by others afterward. The efforts of Strachey and his co-workers was to reconstitute the German text, or to translate it directly from photocopies of the manuscripts; chronology was determined as well as possible, and earlier translations were revised with the aim of achieving a unified style. It is our only critical edition at the present time,

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and is a model of its genre and an essential instrument for any psychoanalytic study. A uniform language is of the highest importance in translating the principal Freudian concepts, and in French the work of Laplanche and Pontalis will aid in this. This is considerable undertaking, and for almost twenty years the project has been troubled with problems of legal rights to the works, the disagreements of the editors, etc. But, Dufresne wonders, are these really the main problems, or is the rivalry, indifference, and schism in the French-speaking psychoanalytic world perhaps more responsible for the failure of the project up to now? He makes a plea for the work to be carried through to completion.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1989). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLVII, 1983. Psychoanal. Q., 58:326-327

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