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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for The Secret Artist
Book cover for The Secret ArtistBook cover for The Secret Artist

Widely acclaimed for giving "an understanding of the connection between Nietzsche’s personal experience and his most famous ideas (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times) in her acclaimed biography, Nietzsche in Turin, Lesley Chamberlain now renders a similar service to readers of Freud. In The Secret Artist, part biography, part literary criticism, she takes the reader into the mind of Freud, toward a better understanding of the thinker, his work, and art itself. The very idea of the subconscious as a constant, active presence in our daily lives was Freud’s greatest contribution and has allowed generations of people to experience their lives more deeply. His rigorous exploration of the dynamism and structures of the subconscious, Chamberlain argues, was in itself an important work of art.

Using Freud’s own writing on art and the aesthetic theories of thinkers ranging from Nietzsche to Lionel Trilling, Chamberlain examines Freud's art and shows how his imaginative creations have revolutionized not only mental health, but our thinking about art in general, by opening up the individual subconscious as a subject. In elegant, accessible prose she describes how "Freud split the aesthetic atom, releasing a vast energy for individual creativity.”

Book cover for The Secret Artist
Book cover for The Secret ArtistBook cover for The Secret Artist

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“Perceptive, learned, beautifully written, and intellectually stimulating.”

“[A] fine and subtle study of Freud the creative writer.”

“Chamberlain emphasizes both Freud's productive fascination with the irrational in publicly respectable ways . . . . The founder of psychoanalysis, she says . . . wanted to address the simple but fundamental question: 'Why can't there be more real and fulfilled loves?' The strength of this book is that the author sees this question hovering behind the couch.”

Lesley Chamberlain

LESLEY CHAMBERLAIN is the author of The Secret Life: A Close Reading of Siegmund Freud, as well as numerous books on topics ranging from Russian food to German literature to the relation between Vincent Van Gogh and Martin Heidegger. A regular contributor to newspapers and journals in Britain and the United States, including the the Times Literary Supplement and the Los Angeles Times, Chamberlain received wide acclaim for her 1997 title Nietzsche in Turin. She lives in London.