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Interpretation of Dreams: The Illustrated Edition, The Hardcover – Illustrated, 7 Nov 2010
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About the Author
Sigmund Freud (18561939) was an Austrian neurologist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has been a professor at several universities in Canada and America and served as the projects director of the Sigmund Freud Archives. He is the author of books critical of Freud's theories. He currently works as a writer and lives in New Zealand.
Top customer reviews
Freud sees dreams as helping us to process things that happened during the day. But dreams are a truth that likes to hide behind symbolism, fears, desires, anxieties and untangling them all to find a meaning is difficult, impossible One might think. Freud claims that the meaning covers itself in allusions and images that are often amusingly strange or bizarre as if we are determined to hide the true meaning of our dreams even from ourselves. Fans of Freud will love this and anyone with an interest in the inner workings of dreams and the human mind.
I find it useful how Freud explained about our dreams. This explanation could be used to voices by depressieves and svhizophrenics.
First, the fact that this amazing book's editor is Jeff Masson (who really is The Daddy when it comes to all things Freudian. Should you wish to check his impeccable credentials, I highly recommend his books, starting with Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst). Jeff Masson's putting together this book also guarantees that the translation used here, A. A. Brill's, is the best there is. We need to remember that translating Freud'd writings from German was a hugely complicated undertaking. There are a lot of translations out there which are highly regarded yet often lack true understanding of Freud's ideas, and often from people who didn't even speak German! So thankfully there is no danger of fundamental subtleties getting lost in transation here.
Second, it is what this book contains. Apart from Freud's seminal text itself, the book is peppered with essays on Freud from Masson plus psychoanalysis and psychotherapy heavyweights such as Jung, Juliet Mitchell, Lacan, Erikson and the great and oh-so-underrated Karen Horney. None of these authors could be accused of adhering unconditionally to Freud's theories - on the contrary. So, together with Masson's introduction, these writings bring Freud's work in the 21st century; not only they show how relevant Freud was, but do it with objectivity. Massons's short essays are hidden in centrefolds inside beautiful two-page-spread art reproductions, so they offer the delight of the unexpected AND they have to be unfolded/discovered from inside a dream... not unlike the surprises which spring from the work of analysing and interpreting dreams, of course.
Another lovely feature is the way the chapters' beginnings are made to stand out by once again having to be revealed by peeling 'a page within a page' and by being printed on a beautiful background of smoke artworks. Methinks this is a poetic allusion to the ephemeral nature of dreams, but let's not forget that Freud had a lifelong love affair with smoking (he was a heavy smoker which in the end killed him; he would light a celebratory cigar during analysis sessions when he believed he found a brilliant interpretation; he famously counteracted the analysts' obsessions with phallic symbols by saying 'Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!')
We are also treated to Sigmund Freud's life story in short and with numerous photos (which brings me to my only criticism: the book could have done with considerably less photographs of Freud's large family, various friends, and even his holiday house for goodnes' sake! and with more significant episodes from the man's life or facts about his work instead. But I can live with that.)
Last, but not least, this handsome tome is sumptuously furnished throughout with art reproductions of superb quality and huge variety. The paintings and drawings are in themselves an education; they are a visual feast which takes us on a meandering and sometimes unsettling journey, from Goya's 'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters' to modern surrealist painters. The artworks illustrate most eloquently that Freud's Interpretation of Dreams might have cohorts of detractors (the 'oooh ah, it is not scientific!' brigade... apples and oranges, people!) but its relevance to art is incontestable. Dali of course is featured copiously. The pedantic in me would have liked to see some Hieronymus Bosch in this book, just for the kick of it really; I feel a bit of Picasso also deserved to be here. But what has been included is more than plenty and cumulates into a thing of beauty.
To top it all up, this edition also comes with a well-stocked Literary Index, an Editor's Bibliography, and an extensive alphabetical Index. Serious stuff in case you want to get serious about Freud in particular and psychoanalysis in general. But even if you do not share what Masson calls Freud's 'respect, admiration and indeed awe of dreams and their power' (and I, for example, don't), I urge you to buy this book and enjoy it for its astonishing literary and artistic value at least. Take Masson's advice:
'It is impossible to read 'The Interpretation of Dreams' without coming away wiser... The world would be a poorer place without this book'.
PS - If unsure of the value and relevance of psychoanalysis today (personally, I think this equals zero but that's just me, I appreciate Freud for his literary talent), have a go at Cassandra's Daughter: A History of Psychoanalysis in Europe and America, or the books of Irvin Yalom.
Freud's understanding of the unconscious and particularly his work on dreams and the work they do ('dream-work') effectively rendered a person mysterious to themselves, challenging, for example, Descartes' view that the human mind - and, therefore, man him/herself - was completely knowable.
Freud, thus, has a huge impact on the way in which we think about what it means to be human, and the way in which 'humanness' is represented in, for example, art and literature.
For a scientific text this is immensely readable, even playful and mischievous in parts. We may have moved on from a literal application of Freudian theories, but this is still a ground-breaking text in the history of human thought, and one which still has implications for the way in which we think about ourselves, the products of our imaginations, and the way in which we create meaning.
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But the book is indeed what I expected and I'm over all happy with it. Just a shame that it's ripped a little.
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