Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Significant Moments: Going to Any Lengths To Catch Him Out

Talent and Genius, published in 1971, is itself a work of extreme eccentricity. It was written in response to another book, published two years earlier, entitled Brother Animal: The Story of Freud and Tausk, by Paul Roazen,which implicated Freud in the suicide, at the age of forty, of one of his early disciples, Victor Tausk. Roazen's book is trivial and slight. Its scholarship, like that of many other works of pop history, does not hold up under any sort of close scrutiny. But, unlike most pop historians, whose sins against the spirit of fact go undetected because nobody takes the trouble to check up on them, Roazen had the misfortune to attract the notice of someone who was willing to go to any lengths to catch him out. In Talent and Genius, Eissler administers one of the most severe trouncings of one scholar by another in the annals of scholarly quarreling. Like Superman rushing to the aid of a victim of injustice, Eissler hastened to defend Freud against what he believed "may properly be called the most brutal attack ever directed at him"—Roazen's insinuation that Freud was to blame for Tausk's death because, motivated by sexual and professional jealousy, he turned away from him at a crucial moment.
Janet Malcolm, In the Freud Archives.

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