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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