Magazine article The Spectator

The Welshman in the Court of Vienna

Magazine article The Spectator

The Welshman in the Court of Vienna

Article excerpt

FREUD'S WIZARD : THE ENIGMA OF ERNEST JONES by Brenda Maddox John Murray, £25, pp. 354, ISBN 0719567920 . £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655

In the opening pages of Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller books are memorably divided into certain useful categories: Books You Needn't Read, Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Need To Read First, Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered, and so on. Most intriguing of all these categories is Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them Too. Along similar lines is Mr Crawford's observation in Mansfield Park: 'Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an Englishman's constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them every where, one is intimate with him by instinct.' The same could be said of Dickens: it is quite possible to know the plot, the names of characters and even quote lines from novels of his that one has never (oh, the shame of it if it ever came out) actually read.

Among modern non-fiction writers whose all-pervasive influence is so firmly established in the collective cultural consciousness that there seems little need to sit down and read them, Sigmund Freud must come near the top of the list. Terms he coined now pepper everyday speech while his theories inform the way we think about ourselves and each other. In Freud's Wizard, Brenda Maddox makes a persuasive case for the possibility that Freud's ideas might never have achieved global penetration without Ernest Jones, the diminutive, dapper Welsh doctor who devoted his life to translating, interpreting and popularising Freud's work. Jones published the first book in English on psychoanalysis, wrote the first major biography of Freud and penned classic original and influential papers.

Maddox skilfully plots the events of Jones's domestic and professional life while outlining the competing theories which came to define different branches of psychoanalysis with clarity and perspective. As rich as anything in the book is the insight into the relationships between Freud, Jung, Jones, Klein et al.

and their relentless habit of interpreting each other's professional conduct in terms of the new discipline.

Freud criticised Sándor Ferenczi's overfamiliarity with patients, unhesitatingly interpreting it as Ferenczi's desire to 'mother' his patients, as his own mother had not loved him enough. …

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