Freud : In His Time and Ours

4.07 (110 ratings by Goodreads)
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lisabeth Roudinesco offers a bold and modern reinterpretation of the iconic founder of psychoanalysis. Based on new archival sources, this is Freud's biography for the twenty-first century--a critical appraisal, at once sympathetic and impartial, of a genius greatly admired and yet greatly misunderstood in his own time and in ours.

Roudinesco traces Freud's life from his upbringing as the eldest of eight siblings in a prosperous Jewish-Austrian household to his final days in London, a refugee of the Nazis' annexation of his homeland. She recreates the milieu of fin de si cle Vienna in the waning days of the Habsburg Empire--an era of extraordinary artistic innovation, given luster by such luminaries as Gustav Klimt, Stefan Zweig, and Gustav Mahler. In the midst of it all, at the modest residence of Berggasse 19, Freud pursued his clinical investigation of nervous disorders, blazing a path into the unplumbed recesses of human consciousness and desire.

Yet this revolutionary who was overthrowing cherished notions of human rationality and sexuality was, in his politics and personal habits, in many ways conservative, Roudinesco shows. In his chauvinistic attitudes toward women, and in his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing threat of Hitler until it was nearly too late, even the analytically-minded Freud had his blind spots. Alert to his intellectual complexity--the numerous tensions in his character and thought that remained unresolved--Roudinesco ultimately views Freud less as a scientific thinker than as the master interpreter of civilization and culture.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 530 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 40.64mm | 952.54g
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • 1 chart
  • 0674659562
  • 9780674659568
  • 353,513

Review quote

A revealing portrait of a cultural revolutionary.--Bryce Christensen"Booklist (starred review)" (11/01/2016) Through seamlessly and eloquently weaving together details from Freud's time and our own, [Roudinesco] provides a refreshingly new and welcome account--warts and all.--Janet Sayers"Times Higher Education" (11/10/2016) This is a book which eschews simple answers and is thus a significant milestone in our understanding of Freud... Roudinesco's work is both comprehensive and subtle... In reclaiming [Freud] as 'the master interpreter of civilization and culture, ' she has provided an invaluable service.--Stuart Kelly"Scotland on Sunday" (12/04/2016) A balanced account of one of the most exceptional and daring thinkers and writers to emerge in the modernist era.--J.P. O'Malley"Irish Times" (10/07/2017) [Roudinesco] provides an insightful, balanced, and sympathetic portrait of Freud. As she assesses Freud's revolutionary ideas about rationality, sexuality, and the unconscious, Roudinesco demonstrates that Freud was less a scientific thinker who uncovered universal truths than a product of his time: a genius, to be sure, but very much a bourgeois shaped by society, family, and politics in the late 19th century...Her critique has an especially persuasive force because it is grounded not only in an analysis of Freud's books, diaries, and letters but from accounts of his sessions with patients.-- (11/03/2016) Freud, a pioneer in creative biography, meets his analyst, a woman who illuminates modern psychology and social evolution for general audiences. This is perhaps the most important Freud biography since that of Jones, and a welcome corrective.-- (10/01/2016) A new standard...[A] masterful achievement...It has the...tangible mix of insouciance, scholarly thoroughness and psychoanalytic acumen, and it demonstrates Roudinesco's critical and philosophical talent. The book's strength is not so much in providing new material, although it does supply intriguing details about Freud's patients and his relationships with family, friends, opponents and disciples. Rather, Roudinesco offers us a rereading of Freud that makes sense of him in relation to his emergence in the Jewish Vienna of the second half of the 19th century, and to the 'old Europe' to which he was so attached until it crumbled in the 20th.-- (11/25/2016) [A] compelling biography...Forget the science: Roudinesco presents a brilliant cultural commentator, a man who married Romanticism and science in a way attractive to the belle poque. In fact, the biographer anchors Freud to his time and place in a way he himself--for all his focus on 'civilization and its discontents'--never managed.-- (12/03/2016) lisabeth Roudinesco's new biography, Freud: In His Time and Ours, is a welcome reminder of Freud's considerable influence on 20th-century intellectual life. More important, she puts center stage Freud's complex brand of rationalism and the full scope of his achievements, which went far beyond offering a cure for individuals. In particular, Roudinesco captures Freud's recognition of the insurmountable ways in which our irrational desires and longings shape who we are and how we act. This correction is needed not only to give us a more accurate sense of Freud's innovations, but also to contrast it against today's more complacent assumptions about human rationality. Despite what economists and psychologists and political scientists insist, the rational self is not always master in its own house--whether in individual life or in collective experience...Roudinesco recounts Freud's life and the development of his thought with great flair.-- (11/02/2016) Do we think we know all there is to know about Freud? Not even close. lisabeth Roudinesco's book is full of fresh facts about Freud's life and potent interpretation of his work. A sparkling and highly original intellectual biography.--Mark Edmundson, author of The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days What makes Freud: In His Time And Ours...such a captivating read, is the author's ability to explain what are often complex, deeply-layered, and dark taboo subjects, into a language that is easily understood...[A] brilliant biography.--J. P. O'Mallery"Irish Examiner" (10/08/2016)
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About Elisabeth Roudinesco

Elisabeth Roudinesco is Head of Research in History at University of Paris VII Denis Diderot.
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Rating details

110 ratings
4.07 out of 5 stars
5 36% (40)
4 40% (44)
3 19% (21)
2 4% (4)
1 1% (1)
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