Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Is That a Tongue in your Cheek?

Among the books on my bedside reading shelf is ‘Freud’s Wizard’ by Brenda Maddox. It is a biography of Ernest Jones, one of the founders of psychoanalysis and a close friend of yer actual Doctor Sigmund.

Unsophisticated, unguarded, un-circumspect people often say and write things that are unintentionally funny; whose funniness is noticed not by themselves but by their more sophisticated, guarded, etc. audience. But surely a critically well-regarded biographer writing about the psychoanalytic movement wouldn’t write such things? And if she seemed to, might she not perhaps be playing a deceptive game, teasing us and perhaps mocking herself?

I hope so, because Brenda Maddox keeps doing it in this book; I would estimate about on average once every two pages but, like buses, the things tend to bunch. Here are a couple that have just jumped out at me, from within the same paragraph:

‘Alix herself had not planned to be analysed, but after suffering from anxiety attacks during a performance of Götterdämmerung she too became Freud’s patient.’

‘Freud, in time, found the Stracheys “exceptionally nice and cultured people though somewhat queer”.’

Here are Jones and Freud together: I think this picture was taken outside the house in NW3 (where else?) Jones found for Freud when he had to leave Vienna in a hurry in 1939.

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