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Civilization and Its Discontentsby Sigmund Freud
Synopses & Reviews
It stands as a brilliant summary of the views on culture from a psychoanalytic perspective that he had been developing since the turn of the century. It is both witness and tribute to the late theory of mind—the so-called structural theory, with its stress on aggression, indeed the death drive, as the pitiless adversary of eros.
Civilization and Its Discontents is one of the last of Freud's books, written in the decade before his death and first published in German in 1929. In it he states his views on the broad question of man's place in the world, a place Freud defines in terms of ceaseless conflict between the individual's quest for freedom and society's demand for conformity.
Freud's theme is that what works for civilization doesn't necessarily work for man. Man, by nature aggressive and egotistical, seeks self-satisfaction. But culture inhibits his instinctual drives. The result is a pervasive and familiar guilt.
Of the various English translations of Freud's major works to appear in his lifetime, only one was authorized by Freud himself: The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud under the general editorship of James Strachey.
Freud approved the overall editorial plan, specific renderings of key words and phrases, and the addition of valuable notes, from bibliographical and explanatory. Many of the translations were done by Strachey himself; the rest were prepared under his supervision. The result was to place the Standard Edition in a position of unquestioned supremacy over all other existing versions.
Freud"s seminal volume of twentieth-century cultural thought grounded in psychoanalytic theory, now with a new introduction by Christopher Hitchens.
For the 75th anniversary, a new edition of the seminal work with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Menand.
During the summer of 1929, Freud worked on what became this seminal volume of twentieth-century thought.
Written in the decade before Freud"s death, Civilization and Its Discontentsmay be his most famous and most brilliant work. It has been praised, dissected, lambasted, interpreted, and reinterpreted. Originally published in 1930, it seeks to answer several questions fundamental to human society and its organization: What influences led to the creation of civilization? Why and how did it come to be? What determines civilization"s trajectory? Freud"s theories on the effect of the knowledge of death on human existence and the birth of art are central to his work. Of the various English translations of Freud"s major works to appear in his lifetime, only Norton"s Standard Edition, under the general editorship of James Strachey, was authorized by Freud himself. This new edition includes both an introduction by the renowned cultural critic and writer Christopher Hitchens as well as Peter Gay"s classic biographical note on Freud.
Civilization and Its Discontents may be Sigmund Freud's best-known work. Originally published in 1930, it seeks to answer ultimate questions: What influences led to the creation of civilization? How did it come to be? What determines its course? In this seminal volume of twentieth-century thought, Freud elucidates the contest between aggression, indeed the death drive, and its adversary eros. He speaks to issues of human creativity and fulfillment, the place of beauty in culture, and the effects of repression.
Louis Menand, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Metaphysical Club, contributor to The New Yorker,and professor of English at Harvard University, reflects on the importance of this work in intellectual thought and why it has become such a landmark book for the history of ideas.
Not available in hardcover for decades, this beautifully rendered anniversary edition will be a welcome addition to readers' shelves.
About the Author
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is one of the twentieth century's greatest minds and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. His many works include The Ego and the Id; An Outline of Psycho-Analysis; Inhibitions; Symptoms and Anxiety; New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis; Civilization and Its Discontent, and others.Peter Gay is the author of more than twenty-five books, including the National Book Award winner The Enlightenment, the best-selling Weimar Culture, and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time. He lives in New York City.
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