The Sphinx on the Table: Sigmund Freud's Art Collection and the Development of Psychoanalysis

Janine Burke, Author . Walker $27.95 (455p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1503-6

Burke opens a narrow window and provides a rich view of Freud the man in this sympathetic but not hagiographic account. An obsessive collector of antiquities, especially small Egyptian, Greek and Roman statues, Freud made his consulting room into a museum and took much of his enormous collection with him on holiday. Well aware that collecting reflects sublimated need, Freud never asked himself what that need was, though he used his antiquities to bind himself to colleagues and stimulate analysands. Freud's "old and grubby gods" provided objective correlatives for his theories. Yet some of them, such as his favorite little bronze of Athena, provided evidence of psychic forces—especially feminine ones—that he was neither able to integrate into his theories nor acknowledge as part of himself. Burke anchors discussion of the major areas of Freud's collection in a sketchy chronological biography, creating unnecessary confusion. However, chapters on the American poet H.D.'s relationship with Freud, and on Freud's flight from the Nazis and his last days in exile, are fascinating and poignant. This is an illuminating portrait of a man whose intellect was rooted in sensuality and whose neuroses were part of his genius. 24 pages of photos not seen by PW . (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Open Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-8027-1834-1
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