28.1.12

Katja Behling, Martha Freud: A Biography

What was it like to be Sigmund Freud's wife?
Sigmund Freud with his wife, Martha Bernays Freud (center), and her sister, Minna Bernays (left) in 1929.
Jenny Diski reviews Katja Behling's Martha Freud: A Biography (translated by R.D.V. Glasgow) in the London Review of Books:
In the membership roll of the worshipful guild of enabling wives, the name of Martha Freud ranks with the greatest: Mrs Noah, Mrs Darwin, Mrs Marx, Mrs Joyce, Mrs Nabokov, Mrs Clinton, and their honorary fellows, Mr Woolf and Mr Cookson. Wives, of either sex, are what keep the universe orderly and quiet enough for the great to think their thoughts, complete their travels, write their books and change the world. Martha Freud was a paragon among wives. There is nothing more liberating from domestic drudgery and the guilt that comes of avoiding it than having a cleaning lady who loves cleaning, a child-carer who’s content with child-care, a homebody who wants nothing more than to be at home. And Martha Freud was all those things. Quite why she was those things is something that her husband might have been the very person to investigate, but Freud was nobody’s fool and knew when to leave well alone in the murkier regions of his personal life – especially that dark continent in his mind concerning women. [Read More]
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