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Squires, P.C. (1939). Jean Paul Friedrich Richter: A Psychoanalytic Portraiture. Psychoanal. Rev., 26(2):191-218.

(1939). Psychoanalytic Review, 26(2):191-218

Jean Paul Friedrich Richter: A Psychoanalytic Portraiture

Paul C. Squires, Ph.D.


Thomas Carlyle concludes his biographical sketch of Richter with these words: “he recognized the Invisible, … strove to represent it in the Visible, and published tidings of it to his fellowmen. This one virtue, the foundation of all other virtues, and which a long study more and more clearly reveals to us in Jean Paul, will cover far greater sins than his were.… Such a man we can safely recommend to universal study; and for those who, in the actual state of matters, may the most blame him, repeat the old maxim: ‘What is extraordinary, try to look at with your own eyes.’”

Coming down over the span of half a century, we find a noteworthy evaluation by the eminent Dilthey: “Von der Grundlage der deutschen Gesellschaft und ihres geistigen Lebens aus waren ganz verschiedene Mösglichkeiten von Poesie gegeben. Die stärkste Kraft neben Goethe und Schiller, die solch andere Möglichkeit verwirklichte, nicht unabhängig von diesen beiden und doch im schärfsten Gegensatz gegen sie, ist Jean Paul gewesen.… Er hat die Befreiung der Phantasie von der Macht des Verstandes und der Wissenschaft ganzlich durchgeführt” (2, p. 428). (“By the foundations of German society and its spiritual life, quite diverse possibilities in the domain of poetry were afforded. The greatest power alongside Goethe and Schiller, which actualized one of the other possibilities, not however independent of these two men yet in sharpest contrast to them, was Jean Paul.… He fully accomplished the deliverance of the imagination from the despotism of the understanding and of science.”)

No other literary genius has so freely unburdened himself through the magic medium of the dream and dream-like experiences as has Richter. He once said: “I would gladly, after my death, have that, which has never yet happened to any author, all my thoughts given to the world,—not one should be concealed.”

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