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Freuds Megalomania Paperback – Apr 26 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; New edition edition (April 26 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393321991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393321999
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 12.6 x 19.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,020,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
Not very long ago I wrote that to deny a people the man whom it praises as the greatest of its sons is not a deed to be undertaken lightly-especially when one belongs oneself to that people. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
It is surprising that this novel got on the New York Times's list of notable books of the year 2000. It does not work on almost every level.
First of all, it is supposed to be a satire. According to my dictionary a satire is "a literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision or wit." Unfortunately, I could not find much irony, derision or wit in the novel. It trudges along, and its deliberately scientific language and formality do not create any satirical effect at all.
Secondly, the novel wants to educate and satirize at the same time. It was quite confusing and tiring for this reader to figure out when to take a fact at face value and when to assume that it was made up. Education goes well with gentle wit and straightforwardness. Satire works best when something is exaggerated and distorted (in this respect, satire is similar to caricature). Blending the educational and the satirical is bound to be difficult. There are examples of a successful blend (take Chapter 6 of Julian Barnes's "Flaubert's Parrot"), but not in this book.

Thirdly, structure. The novel is not - as the blurb claims - "a magical blending" but rather a messy blunder. It sags under the burden of distracting, long-winded side-stories. The storyline is burdened by deviations into the life of two rapists, an illegitimate granddaughter of Freud, and Mr. Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame). For what purpose? What is the joke? I don't get it.
Fourthly, characterization. Satire needs a target worth of derision. Since Freud is no longer on the pedestal on which some academics have put him, he does not really qualify as a target. And what about his disciples? Yes, definitely worthy targets.
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By A Customer on May 17 2001
Format: Paperback
The theory's sort of cute, albeit reductive, and I understand why Rosenfield wanted to use Freud for it -- but it's silly, the book, overall. It's neither great fiction nor great philosophy (let alone science). I found it entertaining, but if a book like this is really to succeed, it should also be enlightening. It is not.
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Format: Hardcover
This reimagining of Freud's last days and his lately discovered "Megalomania Manuscript" is an electric gem that spins off sparks that flash on Adorno, Reich, Fromm, Szasz, Bateson, Watzlawick, Hofsteader, and dozens of other twenthieth century thinkers who would likely shudder to find their names in a sentence with Freud. Oh and there's W.H.R. Rivers and the war poets too (check out Pat Barker). What a fun and fertile imaginative stroll. Thanks.
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Format: Hardcover
Rosenfield's "Megalomania" is an important and original
critique of Freudian theory cleverly disguised as a spoof. Rosenfield
puts his ideas in the mouth and style of Freud, in the form of a newly
discovered Freudian manuscript that repudiates some of Freud's earlier
ideas. The thesis is that the great weakness of mankind lies not in
the defensive operations described by Freud and associated with guilt
over the Oedipus complex, but in the adaptive function that allows
human beings to fill in troubling gaps in their knowledge with more or
less plausible stories. The problem is that because these stories are
incomplete and inaccurate, believing in them requires intense social
pressure. This is the opening for the megalomaniac, who identifies
with the false belief and manipulates the population with brutal
effectiveness into following him. This leads to ethnic and religious
hatred and war. The fanaticism of the megalomaniac has a psychotic,
not a neurotic quality. This idea helps us to understand why
psychoanalysis, although influential among intellectuals, has had no
impact on political history.
Rosenfield wants us to think Freud
could have come to this idea on his own, if not, perhaps, for his own
megalomania. This can hardly be presented as a scientific finding, so
Rosenfield resorts to pastiche and comedy. But the satire actually
spoofs Freud's self-importance in relation to his family and
followers, not his ideas, which are treated quite seriously. If you
look closely, you'll find that all the ideas in "Freud's
Megalomania" are quite seriously presented.
All in all, a
brilliant intellectual tour de force. Don't be fooled by critics who
think the novel is meant to deflate or ridicule Freud's ideas.
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By greg on July 16 2000
Format: Hardcover
I PURCHASED THIS BOOK LAST WEEK AND HAVENT BEEN ABLE TO PULL MYSELF AWAY FROM IT. NOT THAT IVE WANTED TO. ITS BETTER AND MORE ENGROSSING THAN "THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS" AND IS EVEN MORE CHANGING THAN "THE BASIC WRITINGS..." IT SCREAMS "BUY ME BUY ME".
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