The Uncanny (Penguin Classics)
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Freud was fascinated by the mysteries of creativity and the imagination. The groundbreaking works that comprise The Uncanny present some of his most influential explorations of the mind. In these pieces Freud investigates the vivid but seemingly trivial childhood memories that often "screen" deeply uncomfortable desires; the links between literature and daydreaming; and our intensely mixed feelings about things we experience as "uncanny." Also included is Freud's celebrated study of Leonardo Da Vinci-his first exercise in psychobiography.
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nineteenth century, Leonardo probably gave rise to more historical and critical literature than any other historical figure.’25 This involved both literary mythologization and new art historical research, largely because of the publication of Leonardo's hitherto unpublished writings and notebooks. Michelet called him ‘the Italian brother of Faust’, Quinet called his St John the Baptist the incarnation of ‘the new spirit who sees science and cries, I have found it’, while Gautier, Baudelaire and
find out, by means of a survey, what kinds of memories a fairly large number of normal adults can report from this period of their lives. A first step in this direction was taken by V. and C. Henri in 1895, when they drew up and distributed a questionnaire, then published their highly interesting results – they had 123 respondents – in L'Année Psychologique III (1897) under the title ‘Enquête sur les premiers souvenirs de l'enfance’. At present, however, I do not intend to treat the subject in
pretext and a disguise. It is in no way the purpose of such a study to make a great man's achievements understandable, and surely no one should be blamed for failing to keep a promise he never made. The true motives behind this aversion are different. We can discover them if we bear in mind that biographers are fixated on their heroes in a quite peculiar way. A biographer will often choose a certain person as his subject because, for reasons to do with his own emotional life, he has always felt a
with memories, as with dreams, we are revealed by what we screen. Whatever else it does, the essay reveals the vertiginous complexity of a single childhood memory, the text of which the rest of this intricate text builds upon. Who before Freud had dreamed memory could be like this? ‘The Creative Writer and Daydreaming’ (1907) ‘The Creative Writer and Daydreaming’ is the script of an informal talk given to 90 or so non-psychoanalysts in late 1907. After the Jensen essay, it was his first essay
once lived. A jocular saying has it that ‘love is a longing for home‘, and if someone dreams of a certain place or a certain landscape and, while dreaming, thinks to himself, ‘I know this place, I've been here before’, this place can be interpreted as representing his mother's genitals or her womb. Here too, then, the uncanny [the ‘unhomely‘] is what was once familiar [‘homely‘, ‘homey’]. The negative prefix un- is the indicator of repression. III During the foregoing discussions, certain