Project Funding:

German Research Foundation, 2008-2010

G. Fichtner and A. Hirschmüller, with I. Grubrich-Simitis

Cooperation: Gesine Kästner, M.A.

Edition: Sigmund Freud – Martha Bernays: Briefe der Verlobungszeit 1882-1886 (Sigmund Freud – Martha Bernays: Letters from their engagement (1882-1886))

Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays met in the summer of 1882, fell in love and secretly got engaged on June 17th. They got married four years later in September 1886. During this time, the engaged couple spent most of their time apart: Martha spent the summer of 1882 in Wandsbek in Hamburg; in the early summer of 1883, her mother moved there (to the city the family had left for Vienna thirteen years before) with her two daughters Martha and Minna. In the course of four years, Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays wrote more than 1500 letters.

Their correspondence elucidate the personal relationship of the two lovers as well as Freud’s education in the various departments of the Vienna General Hospital, his first successes and failures in science, the increasingly anti-Semitic climate, material hardship, the fire, the young Freud’s personal courage and occasional despair as well as the amazing clarity and maturity of his bride who leads the life of a respectable young woman from an orthodox Jewish family (with all the resulting difficulties). The correspondence, 10% of which has been published so far, will be published in its entirety for the very first time and made accessible to the reader with the help of extensive annotations. This edition will provide an essential basis for all future research into the early history of psychoanalysis and present important sources for the history of Judaism, anti-Semitism at a university level, the issue of gender relations in among assimilated Jews and much more.

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