Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics


By way of Andrew Sullivan, I found this book review by Diane Johnson, referring to

Freud’s friend Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Novel, the inspiration for the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut…

Poor Schnitzler. He’s one of my favourite authors, and Traumnovelle is one of his masterpieces, but he needs to be put into context for English readers by his connection to two people who are much better known.

I find the Freud hook particularly poignant because Freud was famously not a friend of Schnitzler. They were contemporaries, yes, and neighbours in Vienna. They read each other’s work. But they were not friends. There is one famous letter from Freud to Schnitzler (out of about 10 in total), on the occasion of the latter’s 60th birthday, in which Freud expresses his admiration, and explains why he had never made an effort to meet him. He says it was “Doppelgängerscheu”, fear of meeting his double. Schnitzler used a similar expression some years later in an interview with an American journalist, and he had long been fascinated by Freud’s theories, though also critical.

Freud did invite Schnitzler to his home after that letter, but there seem to have been only a few encounters after that. It would have been more accurate to call Schnitzler’s work “the inspiration for the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut, and the inspiration for many of Freud’s theories of dream analysis”.

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