Freud m’a dit – Freud har sagt – a book review

In 2006, Steen Kristensen published a triple biography in Danish on Prince George of Greece and Denmark, Princess Marie Bonaparte and Sigmund Freud. The result was definitely worth a read.

Already in the foreword, Kristensen promises to adhere to Freud’s comment on that if a biography has the intent to understand its hero and his soul to the bottom, it must not, either from discretion or prudishness stay silent about the person’s sexual activity… and he does.

It is claimed that it is a triple biography, but it chiefly covers Princess Marie Bonaparte – the daughter of Roland Bonaparte who married an heiress, and had her write her will to also cover him instead of just her daughter, subsequently she died after Marie’s birth. Secondary it also covers Prince George of Greece and Denmark, referred to as Uncle Goggi by Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg in the Danish television series “En Kongelig familie”, the son of King George I of the Hellenes. And finally it also covers Sigmund Freud.

The story goes from the description of Marie’s childhood, Marie and George’s wedding night, to Marie’s various lovers, and bodily modifications, and her suspicions that George was homosexual. There’s not much that has been put a lid on, and if there is something that has – I feel fairly confident that it is because the author was not admitted to various royal archives, or the archives of Freud – not because of any sense of prudishness. (The story of Prince Peter who contemplated incest with his mother, and Marie writing to Freud and asking whether she should do it, is an example of this.)

I don’t know if it was because I had not read any biographies on Marie and George before, or if it was because of the actual biography itself, but within a few pages I was thoroughly caught up in the story, and couldn’t put the book down.

I actually think that this book would have been stronger without claiming to be a biography on Freud – it can get fairly lengthy at times – Marie and George’s lives provide more than enough tantalizing information on their own – and Freud and Marie started working together fairly late in the equation. Furthermore, there’s a lot of repetition, as well as jumping around in the later chapters that made me lose my concentration.

If you read Danish, and wish to read something which definitely isn’t sugar sweet, and put through a public relations machine, this is definitely a biography to consider reading.

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