RSS Twitter iCal - Members: Login or Register Search

November 15, 2008, 2:30 PM

Freud, Psychoanalysis, and the Philippson Bible

Participants: Mary Bergstein, Abigail Gillman, Diane O'Donoghue (moderator), Bennett Simon, Andrew Stein Raftery

A masterpiece of graphic design, the Philippson Bible (1858) has text not only in two languages, but two alphabets, along with an expanded scientific apparatus of notes and references and over 700 engraved illustrations. Philippson's remarkable work is nothing less than a monumental archive of image/text interface, grandly authoritative in its scope and scale. Philippson's overwhelming reliance on Orientalist imagery, animals, romantic landscapes, and Greco-Roman antiquities reinforces the sense that the work presents a veritable encyclopedia of nature and antiquity, explained visually by way of ethnography, archaeology, and art. This was the book from which Sigmund Freud was educated by his father in his earliest years. As an elderly bibliophile, with a profound knowledge of art and archaeology, Freud stated that his "deep engrossment in the Bible" from his first years as a reader had an enduring effect upon the direction of his interests. This is to say nothing of the imprint of its numerous and varied images on his unconscious mind. This roundtable will address the religious, literary, psychoanalytic, archaeological, and art-historical aspects of the Phillipson Bible, as well as the sources and technical production of its design.

Mary Bergstein is an authority on Italian Renaissance art with a special focus on sculpture. Her important monograph, The Sculpture of Nanni di Banco, was published by Princeton in 2000. She has written numerous articles on the historiography of art, some of which deal with Freud and the classical tradition. Bergstein is currently the head of History of Art and Visual Culture at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Abigail Gillman is Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature at Boston University, where she teaches courses on modern German and Hebrew literature and on Hebrew Bible. Her research focuses on German Jewish literature, Bible translation, the art and architecture of memory, and on the historic dialogue between German and Hebrew. Her book, Viennese Jewish Modernism: Freud, Hofmannsthal, Beer-Hofmann, and Schnitzler is forthcoming in the Refiguring Modernism series of Penn State Press. She is currently writing a cultural history of the German Jewish Bible from 1783 to 1937, which examines the tradition of Bible translation by German Jewish intellectuals such as Mendelssohn, Zunz, Philippson, Buber, and Rosenzweig.

Diane O'Donoghue is Chair of the Department of Visual and Critical Studies at Tufts University, in affiliation with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is a member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, where she has been a Silberger Scholar. She was the Fulbright/Freud Scholar of Psychoanalysis (2001) and Visiting Fulbright Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (2006), both in Vienna, and received the CORST Prize from the American Psychoanalytic Association in 2002. Her most recent publications include articles in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, American Imago, and Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation.

Bennett Simon is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst affiliated with Harvard Medical School (Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Cambridge Health Alliance) and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (Training and Supervising Analyst). He was the Sigmund Freud Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University from 1989-90 and the Heinz Kohut Visiting Professor at the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago, during the spring of 2002. He has long been involved in the borderlands between psychoanalysis and the humanities, and psychoanalysis and the social sciences. He is also a lifelong student of the Hebrew Bible and of ancient Greek literature and culture.

Andrew Stein Raftery is a printmaker specializing in narrative engravings of contemporary American life. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, and is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the New York Public Library. In 2003, Raftery received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and is a 2008 fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is represented by Mary Ryan Gallery in New York, where his exhibition, Open House: Five Engraved Scenes, is on view from October 16th through November 26th. In his position as Associate Professor of Printmaking at Rhode Island School of Design, he is currently working as consulting curator for The Brilliant Line: The Journey of the Early Modern Engraver, scheduled for fall 2009.


Discussion Board

This forum allows for an ongoing discussion of the above Philoctetes event. You may use this space to share your thoughts or to pose questions for panelists. An attempt will be made to address questions during the live event or as part of a continued online dialogue.
Hallie Cohen says:
From: Denis Donovan
Date: November 15, 2008 10:50:59 AM EST
Subject: Freud, Psychoanalysis, and the Philippson Bible
Reply-To: Discussion Group for Psychology and the Arts

Curious that a very good book on Freud and the Philippson Bible isn't even mentioned. It's now over 25 years old. I have a huge two volume copy of Pfrimmer's original theology doctorate thesis "Sigmund Freud Lecteur de la Bible" from the Université des Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg -- but it's available from PUF for those interested -- and from the good used sources.
ISBN: 9782130375166
Freud, Lecteur De La Bible
Theo Pfrimmer
ISBN 10: 2130375162
ISBN 13: 9782130375166
Publisher: Presses universitaires de France
Publication Date: 1982

Alfred Moldovan says:
I made a number of comments at the panel discussion, but I'm afraid I didn't get any adequate answers to my objections. I don't think the panelists were sufficiently conversant with some of the important Jewish elements being discussed. The use of "Melitza" as a linguistic tool by Freud's father. Freuds knowledge or lack of knowledge of the Hebrew and Yiddish languages. The over-emphasis of the bible's illustrations as an influence on Freud's Jewish historical education without an analysis of the role of other illustrated children's books that must have been in the house. I'd love to read some further reactions to my comments at the session
Philoctetes says:
Dear Dr. Moldovan,

Thanks for following up with these questions, which I will circulate to the other panelists for their insights. I will add a comment about the books in the Freud house. The only other illustrated book that Freud recalls from childhood was given to him when he was already in Gymnasium: Friedrich von Tschudi's Animal Life in the Alpine World. Freud's son, Martin, recalls that his father was awarded his book for excellence in studies and gave it to Martin as a gift. Whitney Davis, in his book, Drawing the Dream of the Wolves, suggests that this work was significant to Freud's understanding of the Wolf Man's dream. This book entered his life many years after the Philippson Bible, however.

My wishes for a very good year ahead.

All best,
Diane O'Donoghue

Post a Comment

(URLs will display as links.)
If you are a Philoctetes subscriber, please log in below to post to our event discussions. Or sign up now for a free subscription so you can post to our discussions and optionally receive our email announcements and our bi-monthly newsletter.
E-mail Address:
Password: (Forgot your password?)