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  • Freuds Library: A Comprehensive Catalogue
  • G. W. Pigman III
Freuds Library: A Comprehensive Catalogue, compiled and edited by | Freuds Bibliothek. Vollständiger Katalog, bearbeitet und herausgegeben von | J. Keith Davies and Gerhard Fichtner. Tübingen: edition diskord, 2006. 144 pp. and one CD-ROM. 36 Euros.

Anyone seriously interested in Freud ought to welcome this invaluable and user-friendly research tool, which consists of a book with lucid, detailed instructions for using the CD catalogue and Fichtner's excellent introduction.1 The compilers have personally examined the 3,724 items of the catalogue except for almost 500 that appeared in earlier listings but are now missing. Clues to Freud's reading are provided by indications of whether the pages are partially or completely uncut (more than 300 books) and by page references to marginal markings, underlinings, and annotations. Appendices include complete transcriptions of the markings in ten important books, including four that were essential sources for writings by Freud: Jensen's Gradiva, Lipps's Komik und Humor, Schreber's Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken, and Smith's Lectures on the Religion of the Semites. The CD also contains 944 hyperlinked color images of, among other things, covers, title pages, dedications, and markings. Several hyperlinked indices help the user navigate the CD: names; subjects (both German and English); publishers (or printers); titles; Freud's titles; dedications; dedications by date; signatures; signatures by date; markings; ex libris; ownerships; languages; and images.

Not knowing how much of his library he would be able to take with him, Freud, in the weeks before emigrating in June 1938, with the assistance of his daughter Anna, went through his books one by one; he took roughly two-thirds of his library to London. Now that this comprehensive catalogue is available, a close examination of the items which Freud chose to take with him and which to dispense with could provide some insight into those he considered valuable, at least towards the end of his life. Although most of the items given away come from the neurological and psychiatric literature, several do not—for example, books by Radestock, Scholz, and Tissié that Freud cited repeatedly in the first chapter of the Traumdeutung. The [End Page 520] catalogue will also allow insight into Freud's professional and social relations, since it records the dedications in the books, and a large proportion of Freud's library—one-fifth—contains them.

Like all tools, this catalogue must be used with caution, especially for approaching what for many scholars will be the most interesting questions: what did Freud read, and what did he think about those works? Fichtner reminds us that one may read a book without owning it, or own it without reading it, and notes that many books that Freud read and loved are not in his library (29). Even with that warning, one is still surprised to discover, given Freud's allusions to the classics and his interest in antiquity, that his library contains so few works of Greek and none of Roman literature. There is not a single work in ancient Greek and only a handful of translations: Aristophanes and Sophocles, Aristotle's Poetics and Politics, Artemidorus's Oneirocritica (Symbolik der Träume), Euripides' Ion, Homer's Iliad, and Plato's Symposium.2 Freud's gymnasial education in the classics has left no trace in his library, although he appears to have drawn upon it for the rest of his life.

The compilers' systematic notation of markings in Freud's books will greatly facilitate studies of his reading, and the ten examples are extremely valuable. But marginal markings and underlinings occur in only ca. 9% of the books, and marginal notes in fewer than 2%. Moreover, Freud was accustomed to put slips of paper with notes into his books, but only a few have been preserved (33). A book or a passage in it may not be marked because Freud took notes that have not survived or—with luck—are in the Library of Congress.3 A book without markings is not necessarily a book that Freud did not read with care.

Since any catalogue is a work in progress, and pdf files can be readily...


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