The first and lengthiest of the letters is addressed to Paul Federn, an important early disciple of Freud. Federn was deeply influenced by 'Interpretation of Dreams', and as his relationship with Freud grew, he remained loyal to his mentor even when their theories diverged. In 1924, Federn became an official representative of Freud, and was elected vice president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. These letters contain a detailed account of Freud's life, discussing his ancestors, parents, the origins of the Freud and Nathansohn families, his studies in Leipzig and Vienna, and a listing of his most important editorial projects. They also describe the origins of the Freud family in Cologne and later in Galicia, touching upon his mother’s birth in Brody, and emphasizing her family name as Nathanson-Kallir, indicating that he might be related to the second recipient. Freud outlines his academic successes, his studies in “Neuropathologie”, and his training and graduation as a medical doctor in 1882. Freud also discusses his studies in Paris under Jean-Martin Charcot, records his marriage to Martha Bernays and his six children by her, and gives details of her ancestry. Information about Freud’s work with Josef Breuer in Vienna is offered, in which he describes his training in “so-called Psychoanalysis” and his major discoveries and achievements, his relationship with the Clark University, and many other matters.
"…Ich bin nach kurzem Aufenthalt in Leipzig mit 4 Jahren nach Wien gekommen, habe hier das Gymnasium absolvirt1873 an die Universität gekommen nach einfachem...Schüler des Physiologie [Ernst Wilhelm von] Brücke geworden …Im Herbst 1885 gieng ich mit Universitätsreisestipendium nach Paris zu Prof Charcot… heiratete im Sept. d.J. Martha Bernays, Enkellin des Hamburger Chacham Isaac B, nicht von Jacob o.Michel…Ich bin in den letzten Jahren Herausgeber worden
a. Das Jahrbuches f. psychoanalyse und psychopathol. Forschungen in Gemeinschaft mit Prof Bleuler
b. Der Internat. Zeitschr. F. ärzt Psychoanalyse, Wien, H. Heller…
…Meine Mutter Amalia Nathansohn aus Brody, verstorben 1930 im Alter von 95"
The importance of these letters can scarcely be overestimated. They contain unpublished accounts of Freud’s life, work, and family. Ronald Clark emphasises the importance of biography for the Father of Psychoanalysis, and that the accounts of his family history and early life derive solely from his own descriptions in letters to his friends. So obsessed was Freud with his own biography that he attempted to prevent publication of his early letters to Wilhelm Fliess, which he regarded as too explicit. Each retelling of his family story, in the description and the words chosen, is of enormous importance for our knowledge of Freud and his world.
Less is perhaps known about Dr. Rudolf Kallir, to whom the latter two letters are addressed. He was the brother of Dr. Otto Kallir, the Austrian American art historian, author, publisher, and gallerist. Otto is best remembered for introducing Austrian and German Expressionism to the United States. Rudolf Kallir was a noted antiquarian specializing in musical manuscripts. His career began in Vienna, where he studied law, and continued in the steel industry in Prague, London, and New York. At the same time he was amassing a collection of musical autographs and manuscripts, and eventually served as a consultant on musical acquisitions to many institutions, including the Library of Congress, Morgan Library, and the Harvard University library.
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