Freud's Requiem: Mourning, Memory and the Invisible History of a Summer Walk

Matthew Von Unwerth, Author . Riverhead $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-57322-247-1

Psychoanalyst Von Unwerth's lyrical meditation focuses on an obscure and largely unexamined essay of Freud's, "On Transience," which he wrote in 1915, when he was almost 60. Unwerth mines the brief piece (reprinted in an appendix) for its biographical content. In the essay Freud describes talking about mortality on a walk in the countryside with friends whom Unwerth identifies as the writer Lou Andréas Salomé and her former lover Rainer Maria Rilke. Outlining biographies of the couple, and revealing Freud's paternal relationship to both, Von Unwerth stages an extended meditation on Freud's emotional and intellectual life at the time: "Freud's sentimental prose poem opens to reveal a panorama of the mind of the man who wrote it, a mind that, for all its generative brilliance, is as sentimental, troubled, and torn as that of any of his patients...." Emphasizing the literary qualities of Freud's work, and providing various proofs of the aging psychoanalyst's nostalgic relationship to his own past, including the locales of his childhood and the experience of lost adolescent love, Unwerth proffers biographical interpretations of Freud's theories on love, attachment, narcissism, grief and mourning, in an accessible, intriguing and daringly speculative study of a little-known work by the "father of psychoanalysis." (July)

Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 07/01/2005
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