On this day in 1856 Sigmund Freud was born. People either like, even revere, Freud, or dislike and even denigrate him and his works. The latter have usually not read much of what he wrote, and often have grotesque Daily Mail-ish ideas about him. True, in the English Standard Edition, translated mostly by John Strachey, (brother of Lytton), Freud’s works run to some two dozen fat volumes. Those who have not read him might like to try his ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, first published in 1900. (Well, some say it was 1899.) They will be in for a treat: it is one of the most rich, entertaining and witty books ever written.
In June 1938 — only just in time — Freud was packing his bags in Vienna ready to go to England, (in those days England often welcomed foreigners fleeing persecution) when two burly SS officers turned up and stood over him as he read the paper they had brought with them: a declaration that he had not been ill-treated by the Nazis. Having no choice he signed it, but rightly reckoning that they were too thick to understand irony he added ‘I heartily recommend the SS to everybody’. Freud died in London just over a year later as the Second World War was starting.