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Mrs. Freud: A Novel Hardcover – October 10, 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Paris-based psychiatrist and novelist Rosen writes in her postface that she wanted to bring Freud's spouse into the light, to "oblige Martha to emerge from obscurity." Her novel, an uncredited translation from the French, is epistolary, presenting a correspondence between the elderly Mrs. Freud (née Bernays, 1861–1951) and a fictional American biographer, Mary Huntington-Smith. At first reluctant, Rosen's Martha eventually comes around and freely associates about her childhood as an Orthodox Jew in Germany, her protracted courtship with the passionate and often jealous Sigi, and—at least according to this author—her frustrating marriage. Rosen's Freud did not want an intellectual partner in a wife; rather he required "patience, calm and kindness." Martha's role was supplanted over time by a series of family members and colleagues (sister Minna Bernays, Carl Jung as a student, daughter and intellectual heir Anna Freud). Rosen spends much time imagining the marriage's lost intimacy. (Martha reveals that after the birth of their sixth and final child, abstinence was their method of contraception.) Rosen's work is heavily researched but marred (at least in this translation) by stilted diction and the occasional anachronism. Clear but not inspiring, it reveals a retiring and submissive woman of her time, one who longed in vain for her famous husband's affections and for mental stimulation. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this compelling and painstakingly researched novel, Rosen, a psychiatrist herself, delivers an intimate and telling fictional portrait of Sigmund Freud, as seen through the eyes of his wife, Martha. Rosen allows Freud's aging widow to turn the tables on her famous husband by retrospectively analyzing the twists in the psyche that dominated her life for more than five decades. Through private recollection and through increasingly revelatory letters to an American correspondent, Martha begins to piece together the scattered memories of a marital life often made difficult by the unacknowledged dark spots in her husband's powerful mind. Bit by bit, this long-overawed wife starts to discern the evidence of an irrational mysticism lacing her husband's science; of a curious vulnerability to superstition permeating his hostility to all religion, especially his inherited Judaism; and of a gargantuan ego that resented the slightest show of autonomy by colleagues or family members. But as Martha gropes her way through cloudy memories--innocent of any of the psychoanalytic theories incubated under her roof--it is not finally her husband but herself who comes into focus: a woman whose real talent and intellect were denied any expression by a tyrant who styled himself a revolutionary. A historical novel of exceptional power. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (October 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559707836
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559707831
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,179,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Francoise Teitelbaum on October 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read Nicolle Rosen's book in french. I enjoyed her style and find it creates a very vivid description of life in germany before WW1. I feel that she presents a vivid and believable character of mrs. Freud even if it is difficult to imagine such a life in our times. It also created a portrait of Sigmund Freund very different from what I could have imagined and not what I had expected. I have recommended the book to many of my friends and hope that the translation does it justice. It is a very fine book.
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Mrs. Freud, a first person narration, provides a fascinating look at the Freuds' personal lives as they must have lived them. As she tells her own story, it is immediately apparent that Sigmund Freud was a typical male chauvinist of his time. Her purpose, as they both saw it, was to make his personal life effortless and happy. The fact that he used her as a maid and her sister and other women as companions was not lost on Mrs. Freud. While she cared for him to the bitter end, even after he left his adoring sisters in Austria to the Nazis, she was bitterly critical of him and punished herself for her acquiescence.
If you are looking for a realistic appraisal of the lives of middle class European women of the first half of the Twentieth Century, you will enjoy Mrs. Freud. A real bargain from Amazon for under ten dollars!
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