Freud for All

Since yesterday, the works of Sigmund Freud have entered the public domain — I am not sure that the publishing world is in a feeding frenzy over here in Anglosaxonia, though in France, Libération made a big spiel about the fact that now there are at least 2 French versions of Totem and Taboo, 3 of Civilization and its Discontents (at least one of which uses “Culture” rather than “Civ.”), and 2 Interpretations of Dreams. This could however also become an interesting moment for Freud in English where the old James Strachey supervised translations for the  Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud still hold sway. (See details on this edition, its organization & translators here). There is certainly something to be said for new translations of a number of core texts in the Freud canon, despite the obvious difficulties that revising what has become standard psychoanalytical terminology would entail. Useful to remember that Alix Strachey’s New German-English psychoanalytical vocabulary came out in 1943. In this case a new translation could in fact mean a new theory because here more than elsewhere in so-called science,  “les mots” do not adhere to “les choses” but rather create “les choses” as concepts. A major 21st century translation project? Or simply an antiquarian’s delight?

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Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris is a poet, translator, essayist & anthologist who has published more than 50 books, most recently, Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press and The University of California Book of North African Literature (volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), coedited with Habib Tengour. Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader edited & translated by Joris, and Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-between, essays on Joris’ work edited by Peter Cockelbergh, came out in 2012. Forthcoming are Barzakh — Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press) & Breathturn Into Timestead:The Collected Later Poems of Paul Celan (FSG).

Comment on “Freud for All”

  1. Antiquarian’s delight; Freud, Lacan, etc. – proponents of metapsychology – all of this is going to appear increasingly outdated in relation to cog sci; on the other hand, Freudian/Lacanian terminology (as well as Buddhist terminology) will always be useful for descriptions of subjective phenomenology/psychology; it’s just that the ontological bases are all wrong.

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