Sunday, November 3, 2013

Freud's Mistress by Jennifer Kaufman (and someone else)

From Page 30 of the Sunday (11/3/13) New York Times Book Review:

By Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman
Amy Einhorn/Putnam, $25.95.
A liaison in fin-de-siècle Vienna inspires Mack and Kaufman’s novel. Did Sigmund Freud have an affair with his wife’s sister, Minna Bernays, who moved in with the family in the 1890s and helped care for their six children? No less an authority than Carl Jung said so — and added that it was Minna herself who told him. Mack and Kaufman accentuate the possible without sensationalism, placing Minna in the context of both her times and her family. After the death of her fiancé, 30-year-old Minna supports herself by working as a lady’s companion. When she loses her job, she accepts her older sister Martha’s offer and seeks refuge in the Freud household. She has no intention of betraying her sister or of falling for her brother-in-law, but once circumstance throws them together, sublimation quickly moves to seduction. Minna flees, but can’t stay away. As Freud’s attentions waver, she sulks (“His theories about women and their emotions are completely misguided”), and her selfless sister consoles her: “I’ve seen your disappointment when he ignores you. You must try to adopt a bit of my philosophy when it comes to Sigmund. Enjoy him when he’s civilized; pay no attention when he’s a lout.”

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