“When Adam delved and Eve span…

…who was then the gentleman?” From John Ball’s open air sermon at Blackheath on 7th June, 1381.

When The Complete Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones, 1908-1939, edited by R Andrew Paskauskas, was published by the Harvard University Press in 1993, Lisa Appignanesi and John Forrester reviewed it for The Guardian:

“It was the indefatigable and pugnacious Jones who, over a career lasting 50 years, founded psychoanalytic societies in North America and Britain, vigorously promoted psychoanalysis and Freud’s reputation at conferences and in journals, organised the translation of Freud’s works and of German psychoanalysis into English, and was the longest-serving President of the International Psychoanalytic Association (1920-24 and 1932-49.)

The accidents of history also meant that in 1938, when the Nazis invaded Austria, Jones became Freud’s Joshua, leading this fortunate Moses to his Promised Land of England – where Freud’s last book, Moses and Monotheism, could be published. After Freud’s death, Jones devoted his own old age to his magnificent, if somewhat hagiographical, biography of Freud, dying shortly after its completion. In varying ways both men owed each other their lives.

Recent controversies have accustomed us to the notion that every foray into the Freud archives will produce scandalous material. What emerges from this 30 year correspondence, which begins when Jones is a professionally and personally unsettled young man and Freud is already the paterfamilias of psychoanalysis, is a sober picture of the industry and tenacity required in the building and dissemination of a new discipline which met establishment resistance at every turn…

…When Freud’s early and brilliant translator, Joan Riviere – whom Jones had sent to Freud for a second analysis after his of her had grown tangled with interfering passions – entered the fray in print on (Melanie) Klein’s side, Freud reproached Jones with carrying tolerance too far and not keeping the British group in line.”…

In June 2000 Robert S. Boynton wrote, for the New York Times, The Other Freud (the Wild One); New Translation Aims to Free the Master From His Disciples’ Obsessions, noting that “…at the end of next year Penguin Books will begin releasing the first parts of a newly translated 16-volume edition of Freud’s works.

With the copyright to the original translation expiring, Penguin Books sensed an opportunity for a more modern edition emphasizing Freud the humanist rather than Freud the clinician and scientist (the perspective that (James) Strachey’s translation favored). The task of editing the Penguin project fell to Adam Phillips, the writer and psychoanalyst…

…He says his misgivings about psychoanalysis are directed less at Freud than at those who have reduced his creation to a ”science of sensible passions,” a therapeutic form of conformism. ”Psychoanalysis has become a very dreary profession indeed,” he says. ”It is terribly puritanical, moralistic and coercive. The institutionalization of analysis has killed its wilder spirit. The craving for academic respectability has made analysts want to be recognized either as real scientists or real artists. They aren’t comfortable sustaining the ambiguity that comes with being neither.”

An entirely different atmosphere surrounded the original, authorized translation. Advised by Anna Freud and a committee of her father’s colleagues, Strachey had no doubts that psychoanalysis was a thoroughly scientific undertaking. Although his translation has been consistently praised for its magisterial Victorian prose, Strachey has been criticized for concocting an awkward vocabulary (the Greek cathexis and parapraxis, for example, or the Latin ego and id for Freud’s unpretentious das Ich and das Es.) Strachey is also said to have medicalized psychoanalysis by imposing a spurious scientific consistency on Freud’s sprawling works.

”What made the Strachey translation totally acceptable in the English-speaking world for over two decades is precisely what makes it problematic today,” wrote Sander Gilman in a 1991 article in the International Review of Psychoanalysis

…Not everyone is pleased with the prospect of Mr. Phillips’s new edition of Freud…

…Dr. Mark Solms and the Institute for Psychoanalysis in London have spent more than a decade revising the Strachey translation. A painstakingly scholarly project, the new Standard Edition will be heavily annotated, correcting both Strachey’s mistakes and other textual errors…

…In contrast, Mr. Phillips says he intends to present a Freud for our times, ”a secular, literary Freud who is seen to be like every other writer: endlessly re-describable and re-translatable.” To this end, the Penguin Freud will be part of the Modern Masters series, which includes such writers as Joyce and Proust. To underscore the project’s iconoclasm, Mr. Phillips has organized the books thematically rather than chronologically, and hired a group of literary translators, none of whom has a connection to psychoanalysis or are expected to use a uniform set of psychoanalytic terms.

Mr. Phillips sighs and rolls his eyes when asked about the Standard Edition’s feat of scholarship. ”It is the most pointless task I can imagine,” he says. ”The fantasy of scholarly consensus and rigor is a symptom of psychoanalysis’s problem. I don’t care whether psychoanalysis survives or not — it’s not a religion which we need to sustain. Psychoanalysis will be around as long as it is useful, and then it will disappear, just as everything else disappears.” “.

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