The Freud Museum

Events Archive

24 November 2011

Freud's Couch, Scott's Buttocks, Bronte's Grave

In his wonderfully titled new book Freud's Couch, Scott's Buttocks, Bronte's Grave, writer and academic Simon Goldhill explores places of literary tourism, making a pilgrimage to Freud's office in Hampstead, Sir Walter Scott's baronial mansion, Wordsworth's cottage in the Lake District, the Bronte parsonage, and Shakespeare's birthplace.

Travelling, asmuch as possible, by methods available to Victorians - and gamely negotiating distractions ranging from broken bicycles to a flock of giggling Japanese schoolgirls - he tries to discern what our forebears were looking for at these sites, as well as what they have to say to the modern mind. What does it matter that Emily Bronte's hidden passions burned in this specific room? What does it mean that Scott self-consciously built an extravagant castle suitable for Ivanhoe - and star-struck tourists visited it while he was still living there? Or that Freud's meticulous recreation of his Vienna office is now a meticulously preserved museum of itself? Or that Shakespeare's birthplace features student actors declaiming snippets of his the garden of a house where he almost certainly never wrote a single line?

Goldhill brings to these inquiries his trademark wry humor and a lifetime's engagement with literature. The result is a travel book like no other, a reminder that even today, the writing life still has the power to inspire.

Simon Goldhill is professor of Greek literature and culture and fellow and director of studies in classics at King's College, Cambridge, as well as director of the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group. He is the author of Love, Sex, & Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives.

Freud's Couch, Scott's Buttocks, Bronte's Grave, published by University of Chicago Press, 14 October 2011.


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