Friday, May 30, 2014

"Dreaming for Freud"

Sheila Kohler was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She later lived in Paris for fifteen years, where she married, completed her undergraduate degree in Literature at the Sorbonne, and a graduate degree in Psychology at the Institut Catholique. She moved to the U.S. in 1981 and earned an MFA in Writing at Columbia. She currently teaches at Princeton University. Kohler's work has been featured in the New York Times, O Magazine and included in the Best American Short Stories. She has twice won an O’Henry Prize, as well as an Open Fiction Award, a Willa Cather Prize, and a Smart Family Foundation Prize. Her novel Cracks was nominated for an Impac Award, and has been made into a feature film to be distributed by IFC.

Kohler applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Dreaming for Freud, and reported the following:
What an excellent idea!

On page 69 [inset below left; click to enlarge] we are in Freud's mind. The book has two protagonists: a young patient, based on Ida Bauer who is called Dora in the Dora case, brought to Freud by her father so that she will become more "reasonable," and the forty-four year old Doctor Freud who is struggling to make a living and prove his revolutionary theories.

Here he struggles with his infatuation for Fliess, a strange and controversial doctor he has met and whom he admires and calls his Other. He has not heard from him for a while and this irks and disturbs him. Fliess has helped Freud in many ways: listening to him and providing the interest, critiques, and encouragement he needed all through the writing of his The Interpretation of Dreams. They have quarreled, however, over the problem of bisexuality and who came up first with this idea.

Here as all through the book I have tried to convey not only the struggle for power between my two main protagonists but also their similarities: both Dora and Freud discover their bisexuality during this transaction as this passage makes clear.
Visit Sheila Kohler's website.

Writers Read: Sheila Kohler.

--Marshal Zeringue