Gay’s work is clearly essential to knowing about Freud.s life. Also “Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst (Jewish Lives) (Jewish Lives (Yale))” is worthy of note.
I first read Peter Gays’s 810 page biography, Freud: A Life for Our Time, upon its release in 1988 when I was 23 years old. Many things have changed since then, but having just re-read Gay’s book, I’ve found that Freud’s is still a life for our time.
A detail that stuck with me from my first reading had to do with the fact that Freud lived the last 16 years of his life battling cancer of the palate (while he continued to smoke cigars, which presumably were the cause of his disease). Vividly stamped in my memory was how, toward the end of his life, Freud’s cancer became so ulcerated that it emitted an overwhelming stench, repellent even to his beloved dog. Living his last days in London as a refugee from Nazi-controlled Austria, the smell of death was literally in the air. I recall thinking how Freud’s…
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