Shortly after Sigmund Freud’s death in 1939, W.H. Auden published an elegy to the famous Viennese refugee. Auden’s Freud is flawed and fallible – ‘He wasn’t clever at all: he merely told / the unhappy Present to recite the Past’ – but unquestionably great. ‘If some traces of the autocratic pose, / the paternal strictness he distrusted, still / clung to his utterance and features, / it was a protective coloration / for one who’d live among enemies so long: / if often he was wrong and, at times, absurd / to us he is no more a person / now but a whole climate of opinion.’
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