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Hochjuden

Peter Gay, 5 January 1989

Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin 
by Deborah Hertz.
Yale, 299 pp., £22.50, June 1988, 0 300 03775 9
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... The astonishing thing about this highly professional monograph is that no one has done it before. The subject – cultivated Jewish women presiding over influential salons in Berlin during the era of the French Revolution and just after – would appear to be irresistible. ‘It was in Germany,’ rather than in France, where Jews had been politically emancipated, ‘specifically in Berlin,’ Hertz writes, ‘that a Jewish community achieved the social glory represented by entertaining and even marrying the cream of gentile society ...

What we don’t know about Mozart

Peter Gay, 3 March 1983

Mozart 
by Wolfgang Hildesheimer, translated by Marion Faber.
Dent, 408 pp., £10.95, January 1983, 0 460 04347 1
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... in anecdotes or reduce it to his neuroses. Mozart has recently been subjected to this treatment in Peter Shaffer’s clever but meretricious play Amadeus, which turned him into a divinely gifted vulgarian, punning and burping his way through high society. But Hildesheimer’s way with this self-imposed assignment has none of these depressing features. He ...

Recognising Mozart

Peter Gay, 7 July 1988

Mozart the Dramatist: The Value of his Operas to Him, to his Age and to Us 
by Brigid Brophy.
Libris, 322 pp., £17.50, June 1988, 1 870352 35 1
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1791: Mozart’s Last Year 
by H.C. Robbins Landon.
Thames and Hudson, 240 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 500 01411 6
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Mozart: Studies of the Autograph Scores 
by Alan Tyson.
Harvard, 381 pp., £27.95, January 1988, 0 674 58830 4
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... The literature on Mozart is almost as diverse, though surely not quite so glorious, as Mozart’s own output. These three books are a case in point: a freewheeling analysis of Mozart the opera composer in the Enlightenment, a thoroughly documented survey of Mozart’s last year, and a technical study of Mozart’s manuscripts. Together, they give us a sense that we are closing in on the real Mozart, stripping away as they do myth after myth and replacing impressionistic conjectures by precise information ...

Kissing Cure

Peter Gay, 31 August 1989

The Clinical Diary of Sandor Ferenczi 
edited by Judith Dupont, translated by Michael Balint and Nicola Zarday Jackson.
Harvard, 227 pp., £23.95, February 1989, 0 674 13526 1
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... It was Freud’s dubious privilege to attract endangered personalities. Possibly the most gifted, almost definitely the most interesting of these was Sandor Ferenczi; and the publication of a clinical journal he kept during most of 1932, the year before his death, allows the public interested in such matters to assess, far better than before, the range of his professional gifts and the depth of his psychological vulnerability ...

All about Freud

J.P. Stern, 4 August 1988

Freud: A Life for Our Time: A Life in Our Time 
by Peter Gay.
Dent, 810 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 460 04761 2
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... Professor Peter Gay is an eminent American cultural historian of German origin, an enthusiastic convert to Freudian doctrine, and an honorary member of the American Psychoanalytical Association – you can’t, as a warmly sympathetic biographer of Freud, do-better than that. The sheer amount of biographical, historical and psychoanalytical detail that has gone into the making of this Life is, as far as I can see, unparalleled in the literature of its subject; and so are the care and informed intelligence with which this stupendous mass of facts, conjectures and speculations has been sifted, as well as the attractive, good-humoured and unstrenuous way most of it has been presented ...

Hoping to Hurt

Paul Smith, 9 February 1995

The Cultivation of Hatred 
by Peter Gay.
HarperCollins, 685 pp., £25, April 1994, 0 00 255218 3
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... Peter Gay’s The Cultivation of Hatred completes his Freudian psychoanalysis of the bourgeois 19th century by bringing aggression to bear alongside the forces of sexuality which form the subject of the preceding volumes, Education of the Senses and The Tender Passion. That aggression and sexuality are intimately associated, at once intermingled and opposed, Gay has no doubt, pointing to the ‘provocative oxymorons like “sweet cruelty”, the “voluptuousness of revenge” and “cruel tenderness” ’, in which Heine and others registered their sense of the ambiguity of the relationship ...

Drowned in Eau de Vie

Modris Eksteins: New, Fast and Modern, 21 February 2008

Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond 
by Peter Gay.
Heinemann, 610 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 434 01044 8
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... War. In his new book, Modernism: The Lure of Heresy, the inordinately prolific and widely admired Peter Gay has much to say about the creativity of the moderns but surprisingly little about their negativity. He conceives of Modernism in older terms as principally an intellectual and artistic grouping bent on liberation rather than as a broader frame of ...

Unshockable Victorians

John Bayley, 19 June 1986

The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud. Vol. II: The Tender Passion 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 490 pp., £19.50, June 1986, 0 19 503741 3
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... into its own: its complacencies, tyrannies and inhibitions now seem positively seductive. Peter Gay proposes to write a series of six volumes on ‘The Bourgeois Experience’, of which this is the second, and it is clear that he is on the way to sales and success. Shrewdly, the first two volumes deal respectively with sex and love as parts of ...

Masters or Servants

Conrad Russell, 5 July 1984

The Young Richelieu: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Leadership 
by Elizabeth Wirth Marvick.
Chicago, 276 pp., £27.20, December 1983, 0 226 50904 4
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Richelieu and Olivares 
by J.H. Elliott.
Cambridge, 189 pp., £17.50, March 1984, 0 521 26205 4
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... to the historian. In the 19th century, in the age which, in their different ways, Freud and Peter Gay have made their own, sheer bulk of documents may to some extent compensate for this difficulty. In the 17th century, the problem of psychological interpretation is altogether more intractable. That 17th-century characters had psychologies, as much ...

Keeping the show on the road

John Kerrigan, 6 November 1986

Tribute to Freud 
by H. D.
Carcanet, 194 pp., £5.95, August 1985, 0 85635 599 2
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In Dora’s Case: Freud, Hysteria, Feminism 
edited by Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane.
Virago, 291 pp., £11.95, October 1985, 0 86068 712 0
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The Essentials of Psychoanalysis 
by Sigmund Freud, edited by Anna Freud.
Hogarth/Institute of Psychoanalysis, 595 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 7012 0720 5
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Freud and the Humanities 
edited by Peregrine Horden.
Duckworth, 186 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 7156 1983 7
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Freud for Historians 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 252 pp., £16.50, January 1986, 0 19 503586 0
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The Psychoanalytic Movement 
by Ernest Gellner.
Paladin, 241 pp., £3.50, May 1985, 0 586 08436 3
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The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art 
by Leo Bersani.
Columbia, 126 pp., $17.50, April 1986, 0 231 06218 4
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... are erudite and caustic: a sting in the tail of this sometimes bland collection. Certainly, Peter Gay should read Lloyd-Jones whenever he feels a fit of hyperbole stealing over him. ‘The astonishing range of Freud’s discoveries, his unparalleled gift for reading evidence’, ‘advocate of genius’, ‘this courageous exploration’: by the ...

Knowledge Infinite

D.J. Enright, 16 August 1990

The Don Giovanni Book: Myths of Seduction and Betrayal 
edited by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 127 pp., £6.99, July 1990, 0 571 14542 6
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... and the eternal’, where the stone figure of the Commendatore is undeniably a case in point. Peter Gay explores the opera’s ‘hidden agenda’, long ago exposed to the light of Freudian day: in this Oedipal reading, Mozart’s ‘unconscious rage against his father, disciplinarian and exploiter’, is reflected in Don Giovanni’s unsuccessful ...

Weimarama

Richard J. Evans, 8 November 1990

Male Fantasies Vol. I: Women, Floods, Bodies, History 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 517 pp., £35, May 1987, 0 7456 0382 3
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Male Fantasies Vol. II: Male Bodies: Psychoanalysing the White Terror 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 507 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0556 7
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... Nineties, his argument appears politically utopian, and – given the work that has been done by Peter Gay and others on exposing the gulf that lay between the prim nostrums of Victorian moralists and the pulsating realities of the sexual culture they were trying to define – historically inadequate. Moreover, the book’s structure is as rambling and ...

From Shtetl to Boulevard

Paul Keegan: Freud’s Mother, 4 October 2017

Freud: In His Time and Ours 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by Catherine Porter.
Harvard, 580 pp., £27.95, November 2016, 978 0 674 65956 8
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Freud: An Intellectual Biography 
by Joel Whitebook.
Cambridge, 484 pp., £30, February 2017, 978 0 521 86418 3
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... by association. Both biographies share an aversion to the twice-told tale (by Ernest Jones and Peter Gay) of an Enlightenment Freud dutiful and dauntless in the stables of irrationality. The new biographers have turned away from prelapsarian universals. Rather than insulate his thought from its darker strains, they side emphatically with his ...

Former Lovers

Michael Mason, 6 September 1984

The Bourgeois Experience. Victoria to Freud Vol. I: Education of the Senses 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 608 pp., £18.50, March 1984, 0 19 503352 3
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Austin and Mabel: The Amherst Affair and Love Letters of Austin Dickinson and Mabel Loomis Todd 
by Polly Longsworth.
Farrar, Straus, 449 pp., £18.50, September 1984, 0 374 10716 5
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The Memoirs of John Addington Symonds 
edited by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Hutchinson, 319 pp., £14.95, May 1984, 0 09 154170 0
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... to be entitled to a powerful sexual overtone, even if not the customary one. The reviewers of Peter Gay’s book have been very receptive to the thought that we have got Victorian sexuality wrong: for it is a leading part of the author’s argument that the Victorians were not prevailingly ignorant, inhibited, prudish and hypocritical about sex. But ...

Enlightenment’s Errand Boy

David A. Bell: The Philosophes and the Republic of Letters, 22 May 2003

Calvet’s Web: Enlightenment and the Republic of Letters in 18th-Century France 
by L.W.B. Brockliss.
Oxford, 471 pp., £55, July 2002, 9780199247486
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The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon 
by Colin Jones.
Allen Lane, 651 pp., £25, August 2002, 0 7139 9039 2
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... story of the Enlightenment’s steady diffusion outwards from its Parisian source. In the 1960s, Peter Gay gave them new power in his brilliant extended essay The Enlightenment: An Interpretation. Gay recognised the international dimensions of the Enlightenment, and included Scots, English, Germans and Italians as ...

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