Academic journal article German Quarterly

The Freudian Calling: Early Viennese Psychoanalysis and the Pursuit of Cultural Science

Academic journal article German Quarterly

The Freudian Calling: Early Viennese Psychoanalysis and the Pursuit of Cultural Science

Article excerpt

Rose, Louis. The Freudian Calling: Early Viennese Psychoanalysis and the Pursuit of Cultural Science. Kritik 15. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1998. 228 pp. $24.95 paperback.

Of the study of Freud there is no end. The death of psychoanalysis has given birth to a new science-Freud Studies. Louis Rose, a historian at Otterbein College, presents a fascinating and worthwhile contribution to this new area of scholarship in his study of the cultural politics of Freudian cultural studies. Rooted in a close account of the cultural politics of the "Wednesday Night" circle around Freud (which became the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society), Rose tracks the debates about culture, art, and creativity within this circle. Given that virtually all of its members were Jews (and men), the study also becomes an analysis of the cultural politics of the Jewish professional class in Vienna at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.

What is striking to me is the unrelenting sense of the avoidance of the modern in this most modern of groups. Taking their clue (unself-consciously at the beginning) from writers such as Karl Kraus, they condemn the very notion of modernity and seek to replace it with alternative models of art and the creative. That a certain anxiety about the status of their own creativity is at stake goes unmentioned by Rose, who struggles to provide an "objective" reading of their actions, avoiding any sort of attempt to provide a psychological rationale for them. …

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