Broadcast 8 April, 2024. Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes


In this special online talk in support of the Sigmund Freud Library Conservation Appeal, Professor Daniel Orrells (KCL) and Freud Museum Research Manager Tom DeRose, discuss one of the most important examples of Freud’s lifelong passion for archaeology from his library, his copy of the first edition of his monograph, Der Wahn und die Träume in W. Jensens “Gradiva” (Delusions and Dreams in Jensen’s “Gradiva”).

In 1907, Freud published his first full length analysis of a work of literature, Wilhelm Jensen’s ‘Pompeiian Fantasy’ novella entitled “Gradiva”. Freud was charmed by this short story, recommend to him by Jung, which tells of how a young archaeologist falls in love with the figure of a woman depicted in a bas-relief. The story not only appealed to Freud’s archaeological tastes, but also offered him an opportunity to illustrate the techniques of psychoanalysis, as the protagonist’s journey from delusion to reality could be compared to the analysand’s resolution of neurotic conflict on the psychoanalyst’s couch.

Freud was so enchanted by this Pygmalion-esque story that he ended up commissioning his own relief of Gradiva, which hangs dramatically on the door-jam at the entrance to his study at 20 Maresfield Gardens. In this talk we will trace the pathways of Freud’s archaeological desire through his analysis of the ‘delusions’ and ‘dreams’ in Jensen’s novella.



Daniel Orrells is Professor of Classics at King’s College London. His research explores the reception of the ancient world in modern cultural and intellectual history. His books include Classical Culture and Modern Masculinity (Oxford, 2011) and Sex: Antiquity and Its Legacy (London, 2015). His forthcoming book is Antiquity in Print: Visualising Ancient Greece in the Eighteenth Century.

Tom DeRose is Research Manager at the Freud Museum London. He runs the Freud Museum Reading Group and hosts the Freud in Focus podcast. His research explores the philosophical aspects and cultural implications of Freud’s theories. His latest publication is, ‘The Battle for the Voice: Psychoanalysis and Music’, in ed. Tambling, The Bloomsbury Handbook to Literature and Psychoanalysis (London, 2023).

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