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Freud: A Life for Our Time


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About the Author

Peter Gay (1923-2015) was the author of more than twenty-five books, including the National Book Award winner The Enlightenment, the best-selling Weimar Culture, and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time.


Gay's engrossing portrait of Freud is unconventional, at times startling. We see how a doting, domineering mother equipped young Sigmund for a life of intrepid investigation. We follow the ambitious medical student's long, sexually starved courtship of Martha Bernays, a romance that, according to Gay, influenced his theories about the sexual roots of mental ailments. Freud continually analyzed his own unresolved conflicts, blaming his fainting spells on unconscious homosexual urges. Though he preached that the psychoanalyst should be detached during therapy sessions, he bent and even broke his own rules, returning fees to patients who fell on hard times and making friends with his favorite analysands. Perhaps no biographer has succeeded as well as Gay in linking Freud's life to his writings and his times. In this magisterial biography by the eminent cultural historian (The Bourgeois Experience, etc.), Freud's greatness and his flaws flow out of the same stubborn, obsessive quest for truth. Photos not seen by PW. (April)

This simply wonderful book will take its place among the definitive biographies of Freud. The author, an historian and superb writer with psychoanalytical training, has written extensively on Freud and the era in which he worked. While clearly partial to Freud, Gay gives a far more balanced and at times critical account of his life than Ernest Jones's very orthodox The Life & Work of Sigmund Freud and hence will provide a far more valuable refutation of works hostile to Freud. Outstanding features include the in-depth, lucid discussion of Freud's major works and masterful evocation of the epoch that ended in the terror of Nazi-occupied Vienna. Accessible and entertaining as well as comprehensive and technically rigorous; a great addition to the field. Paul Hymowitz, Cornell Medical Ctr., New York

"Intelligent and wholly absorbing... Judicious, original biography, scrupulously grounded in close readings of [Freud's] work." -- Michiko Kakutani - New York Times "Remarkable ... briskly traces the story of Freud's life and education, deftly weaving the familiar narrative with a style that makes it seem fresh and lively." -- Chicago Tribune "A magisterial contribution to the history of ideas. A fresh, illuminating perspective on one of the pivotal figures of our time." -- J Anthony Lukas "Elegant ... puts Freud's life into the context of his time while attempting to explain him for readers who cannot escape his shadow. In Gay's hands, the Olympian figure is almost within mortal reach." -- Michael Skube - News and Observer "Brilliant... A dazzling performance... Gay's ability to integrate into a coherent whole the vast published and unpublished literature on Freud-including hundreds of previously unknown or inaccessible letters-is awesome... A work of art." -- Jonathan Sharp - San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

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