ALS in German, signed “Freud,” one page both sides, 6 x 9, personal letterhead, May 14, 1934. Letter to an unidentified doctor, in full (translated): “I’m writing to you after reading the strange book by Dienne. It was hard work and unproductive. I was scarcely able to follow the theoretical discussions, and didn't understand how these assumptions are supposed to explain precognition, how the pre-existance of the future is to be reconciled with free will etc. The final conclusion in favor of an immortal spirit contradicts my entire pre-history and even the prospect of making new elucidating experiences is, according to the author's judgement, quite negligible because of my advanced age. I would also have to promise to sacrifice the last vestige of my health to my good sleep. On the other hand I am incapable of explaining the author's dreams. Therefore the riddle continues to exist. No contradiction with psychoanalysis is present because it [psychoanalysis] is concerned solely with the interpretation of dreams, which Dienne leaves by the wayside. I would be very pleased to have a few maps from your Africa flight.” In fine condition, with central horizontal and vertical folds and some light edge and corner creases.
As Surrealism began to take shape in the 1920s, with the declared purpose of ‘pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express the real functioning of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason,’ Freud’s work with free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious found strong support within the movement. Failing to reciprocate, Freud remarked that the Surrealists’ experiments, touted as the liberation of the unconscious, were in fact highly structured by conscious activity, and that it was a mistake to regard them as ‘direct manifestations of the unconscious.’ In response, many of the emerging artists changed their views toward him; Simone Dienne, wife of Surrealist poet and screenwriter Jacques Prevert, was likely one of that group. This harsh critique of a “strange book by Dienne,” shrugs off her unimportant and seemingly convoluted evaluation, presenting it as a weak attempt to theorize against his work. Freud sums up his reading experience as “hard work and unproductive.” An extraordinarily uncommon and desirable letter from the father of psychoanalysis with phenomenal content touching on both dreams and analysis, the cornerstones of his work. Provenance: Sotheby’s, 2005. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.
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