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Reviewed by:
  • Freud and the Émigré: Austrian Émigrés, Exiles, and the Legacy of Psychoanalysis in Britain, 1930S-1970S ed. by Elana Shapira and Daniela Finzi
  • Steven Beller
Elana Shapira and Daniela Finzi, eds., Freud and the Émigré: Austrian Émigrés, Exiles, and the Legacy of Psychoanalysis in Britain, 1930S-1970S. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021. 277 pp.

Émigrés from Austria were one of the most influential groups in shaping modern British society and culture. Wherever you turn, you find an Austrian émigré: Karl Popper, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Friedrich Hayek, George Weidenfeld, Rudolf Bing, Ernst Gombrich, and Peter Pulzer, to name just a few. If you expand it to the second generation and include descendants of "old" Austrians, then you get another fascinating list of hugely influential figures with some émigré background: Marianne Faithfull, an icon of the 1960s, was the granddaughter of a Sacher-Masoch; Stephen Fry, Ben Elton, Richard Curtis, and perhaps most influential of all, Tom Stoppard all have "Austrian" [End Page 139] Jewish émigré backgrounds. Modern British popular culture would just not have been the same without the Austrian émigrés. And then there is also Sigmund Freud, along with his descendants and followers.

The immense achievement of émigrés in Britain has been well catalogued by Daniel Snowman in Hitler's Émigrés (2002), and the Freudian emigration has also been covered by such works as Freud in Exile (1988; edited by Edward Timms and Naomi Segal). The volume under review carries this research further, with many valuable contributions delineating the interaction of the Freudian psychoanalytic tradition with British wartime and postwar culture. Some of the larger claims made by Elana Shapira in her introduction are open to discussion, as I am not quite sure Freud and psychoanalysis were quite as dominant in framing the Austrian émigré identity and culture, the "Viennese community," as she appears to suggest. Nonetheless there is much material of great interest here for anyone looking for how "Austria" survived post-1938 elsewhere.

The first topic, aptly, covers the relationship of the master, Sigmund Freud, with England, starting from his childhood. The initial connections were through family, his two half-brothers in Manchester, whom he visited as a teenager, but Freud developed a lifelong admiration of England as the land of freedom and, as Liliane Weissberg relates, even claimed to H. G. Wells in 1939 that since his teenage visit it had been "an intense wish phantasy" of his to become an Englishman. In this Anglophilia, Freud was like many other Viennese Jews, Theodor Herzl included, who loved the sense of liberty that the image of English parliamentary politics, among other factors, projected. Weissberg develops an interesting discussion of how Freud's love of England as the new promised land entwined with his increasing identification with Moses, as made evident by his famous, or notorious, last major work, Moses and Monotheism.

Volker Welter provides a chapter on how Ernst Freud, the son of Sigmund who became an architect, attempted to provide homes for psychoanalysis in its new English home just as he had in Berlin, with the psychoanalyst's consulting room, couch included, attached to the psychoanalyst's home. Another Viennese, who never felt as much at home in England as Freud but who took up Freud's psychoanalytical approach in spirit if not in detail, was Stefan Zweig. As Werner Michler shows in his analysis of Beware of Pity, Zweig played fast and loose with psychoanalytic theory, sticking primarily to his own psychological insights. Nonetheless, Zweig, who greatly admired [End Page 140] Freud, was deeply honored to give a eulogy at Freud's funeral in Golders Green. The elaborateness of the eulogy perhaps gives an insight into why Zweig felt uncomfortable in England. As Michler dryly relates, Ernest Jones, the Welsh leader of psychoanalysis in Britain, had claimed in his own speech that Freud was "being buried to-day in the atmosphere he would have wished, one of stark truth and realism; in sheer simplicity, without a note of pomp or ceremony"; Zweig's Roman oration was completely at variance with this.

There follow chapters on two more émigrés who traded in the psychological culture associated with Freud. Laura Marcus...


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