Sabina Spielrein: Forgotten Pioneer of Psychoanalysis

By Coline Covington; Barbara Wharton | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

Unedited extracts from a diary

With a prologue by Jeanne Moll

Sabina Spielrein

Translated into French by Jeanne Moll,1 and into English by Pramila Bennett in collaboration with Barbara Wharton


Prologue

It is a strange feeling to hold in my hands and read through these twenty-one double pages measuring 18×11.5 cm, a little yellowed by time and covered in small black writing; they have recently been unearthed from an attic where they have lain for nearly seventy-five years. In them a young Russian woman of twenty-two or twenty-three addresses herself in a picturesque and at the same time vigorous German to a correspondent whose identity is soon guessed.

I devoured these undated pages of Sabina Spielrein's diary at first in one sitting, astounded by the proliferation of questions, the acuity of the thoughts, the subtlety of the remarks, and at the same time moved by a strange sympathy for this passionate young girl who, first through her theoretical reflections, and then in an unequivocal way, asserts her right to think and love openly, in the face of resistance from the man who humiliates her in order to defend himself. One does not tire of reading these fluent pages, of enjoying their timeless sensuality, of getting involved in the game of passion and intellect that Sabina stages in this slightly puzzling prologue; a game which is both subtle and confused, where passion and spirit—die Leidenschaft und der Geist—, the female confronting the male, wrestle to find a word to express an authentic note, straightforward and without any indeterminate coldness.

In this prelude for two voices in which Sabina ends up by awarding the prize to the speaker who resists the impetuosity of his feelings and almost ridicules them, I seem to perceive a tribute to the still unnamed man who overcomes his passion to allow thought to triumph, and, at the same time, a secret claim to the love which dares speak its name.

It is a disingenuous game and at the same time a terrible one—the prologue's last word; a game of hide-and-seek in which she starts her quest for recognition while he continues to try to extricate himself.

As I sorted out these pages that have emerged from their silence, the abbreviations became clear (n.=nicht, d=durch…), and as I searched in

-15-

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