FREUD, SIGMUND Autograph letter in German signed (as "Freud"), regarding the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.
11 1/2 x 9 inches (28 x 22.5 cm); 2 pp. on a single sheet of Freud's letterhead with his Wien IX, Berggasse 19 printed address, dated 7 November 1935, to Percy Allen; matted and displayed with a translation in elaborate black morocco folder (likely by Joanne Sonnichsen), housed in a plastic sleeve in a black buckram clamshell case. Horizontal and vertical folds, central horizontal fold starting at right margin and small marginal tissue restoration, minor marginal spotting, the letter tissue-mounted to the mat at extreme edges.
Sigmund Freud on William Shakespeare's authorship of the plays. "... Lear could only be understood psychologically on the assumption that [Edward de Vere, Earl of] Oxford is the author, and I believe Edward de Vere to have been the author of all the other genuine Shakespeare plays." For Freud, an ardent Shakespearian who began reading the works early in childhood, the plays were central to his theories, "part of the raw material from which Freud constructed psychoanalysis" according to the Freud Museum. The psychoanalytic theory of the Oedipus complex, for example, was partially based on his interpretation of Hamlet. Later in life he developed a firm conviction that Shakespeare could not be the author of the canon assigned to him, largely influenced by the theory of J. Thomas Looney (mentioned here) that Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford, was the true author. Freud based this on largely psychological grounds; he felt that (for example), echoing Hamlet's familial situation, de Vere's father had died when he was still young, and his mother had precipitately remarried. King Lear, mentioned here, was another of Freud's favorite plays. Percy Allen, the recipient of the present letter, was an English journalist and an ardent proponent of Oxford as the author of Shakespeare's works, though his theory that de Vere had fathered a child by Queen Elizabeth I proved too much for Freud, who in the present letter strongly expresses his doubts to Allen "I have been accustomed to think of the Virgin Queen as incapable of bearing a child."
C Private Collection of Barbara and Ira Lipman
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