CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Yale CrimProf Jed Rubenfeld Writes "The Interpretation of Law"

Rubenfeld_jedFrom Yale School of Law CrimProf Jed Rubenfeld's The Interpretation of Murder - which has Freud, during his single disillusioning visit to the US in 1909, drafted in to help the NYPD catch a serial sex killer - has been sitting high in the UK's paperback fiction bestseller list for weeks. Rubenfeld's success follows hard on the heels of Caleb Carr's 2001 hit The Alienist, another Manhattan murder mystery with a psychoanalyst hero, in this case the fictional Freudian shrink Laszlo Kreizler.

The vogue for invoking the historical figure of Freud for fictional purposes started as long ago as 1983 when D. M. Thomas cheekily prefaced his cult hit Freudian novel, The White Hotel, with a series of letters purportedly written by the Master during the same US trip that inspired Rubenfeld.

Indeed, so convincingly Freudian was Thomas's pastiche that when she read the novel, Anna Freud, Sigmund's psychoanalyst daughter and a devoted keeper of her father's flame, wailed: 'But vere did he get all these letters - and who gave him permission to quote them?'

Rubenfeld, appropriately enough a Professor of Criminal Law at Yale, found the germ for his first novel in a true-life mystery: why did the real Freud hate America, despite the fact that he was hailed as a hero there at a time when he faced suspicion, derision and vicious anti-Semitism in Europe, particularly in his own beloved Vienna? Long before Hitler's Gestapo detained Anna and forced the aged, dying Freud to flee Austria for English exile, it was Americans whom Freud called 'savages' while denouncing the barbarities of their culture. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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