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Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). Delusion and Dream. 1917.


JENSEN’S brilliant and unique story of “Gradiva” has not only literary merit of very high order, but may be said to open up a new field for romance. It is the story of a young archeologist who suffered a very characteristic mental disturbance and was gradually but effectively cured by a kind of native psychotherapeutic instinct, which probably inheres in all of us, but which in this case was found in the girl he formerly loved but had forgotten, and who restored at the same time his health and his old affection for her.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the work is that the author knew nothing of psychotherapy as such, but wrought his way through the labyrinth of mechanisms that he in a sense rediscovered and set to work, so that it needed only the application of technical terms to make this romance at the same time a pretty good key to the whole domain of psychoanalysis. In a sense it is a dream-story, but no single dream ever began to be so true to the typical nature of dreams; it is a clinical picture, but I can think of no clinical picture that had its natural human interest so enhanced by a moving romance. “Gradiva” might be an introduction to psychoanalysis, and is better than anything else we can think of to popularize it.

It might be added that while this romance has been more thoroughly analyzed than any other, and that by Freud himself, it is really only one of many which in the literature of the subject have been used to show forth the mysterious ways of the unconscious. It indicates that psychoanalysis has a future in literary criticism, if not that all art and artists have, from the beginning, more or less anticipated as they now illustrate it.

The translator is thoroughly competent and has done her work with painstaking conscientiousness, and she has had the great advantage of having it revised, especially with reference to the translation of technical terms from the German, by no less an eminent expert in psychotherapy than Dr. Smith Ely Jelliffe.