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Richards, A. (2018). A Cultural Citizen of the World: Sigmund Freud's Knowledge and use of British and American Writings: By S. S. Prawer. Abingdon, UK / New York: Modern Humanities Research Association / Routledge, 2009. 156 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 87(2):383-387.
(2018). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 87(2):383-387
A Cultural Citizen of the World: Sigmund Freud's Knowledge and use of British and American Writings: By S. S. Prawer. Abingdon, UK / New York: Modern Humanities Research Association / Routledge, 2009. 156 pp.
Review by: Arnold Richards
That Freud studied and was influenced by both Shakespeare and John Stuart Mill is well known, but Freud's Anglophilia—which began in his teens—and his interest in and love of many other British and American authors is less known. Therefore, A Cultural Citizen of the World: Sigmund Freud's Knowledge and Use of British and American Writings, by S. S. Prawer, is an important contribution to Freud's historiography.
Freud had always wanted to be a part of the thought collective of cultured and educated Viennese and Germans and to share in their thought style. He worked hard at the gymnasium to which his father sent him so that he could acquire the educational bona fides of Viennese society. This required the acquisition of Bildung, the self-cultivation ideal institutionalized by Wilhelm von Humboldt in the German-speaking countries during the nineteenth century. To this end, Freud studied Latin and Greek, and he read Cervantes as well as the great figures of the German Enlightenment, Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, and Heine.
Freud's English-language influences included the scientists John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, and Norman Lockyer; the philosophers Bacon, Locke, and Hume; the anthropologists Sir James Fraser and Arthur Evans; the statesman Benjamin Disraeli; the economists Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus; and the Scottish historian of religion William Robertson Smith. Some of these names are familiar to us all from our reading of Freud's applied analytic work, including Totem and Taboo, Civilization and Its Discontents, Moses and Monotheism, and Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.
The list of poets, novelists, and other contributors to the humanities whom Freud read and admired is also very long.
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