Freud's Trip to Orvieto: The Great Doctor's Unresolved Confrontation with Antisemitism, Death, and Homoeroticism; His Passion for Paintings; and the Writer in His Footsteps

Bellevue Literary. May 2017. 352p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781942658269. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781942658276. PSYCH
OrangeReviewStarSigmund Freud (1856–1939), the inventor of psychoanalysis and a prolific author, has evoked many biographies, and the long subtitle sums up this one. Biographer Weber (The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism; Le Corbusier: A Life) directs the Albers Foundation, a Connecticut-based resource for artists and scholars. His text is beautifully augmented with 36 color plates. In 1897, Freud, then 41, visited Orvieto, Italy, and viewed a fresco exhibit by Renaissance artist Luca Signorelli—an array of muscular nude men, in "horrific detail." Later, to his dismay, Freud couldn't recall the artist's name and wrote about it in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901). Weber finds Freud's self-analysis deceptive, citing a 1979 article by Richard and Marietta Karpe on eroticism and death. A master of "linguistic gymnastics," Freud was overwhelmed by the artworks—a "gut reaction to pictures."
VERDICT With an amalgam of relevant history, stunning art, and deft psychology, Weber brings new insights on the life and work of a cultural dynamo.
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