Study Guide

"In Memory of Sigmund Freud" by W. H. Auden in Psychoanalysis

"In Memory of Sigmund Freud" by W. H. Auden

Have some Kleenex at the ready, folks, because this one's a real tear-jerker. Auden's beautiful and moving elegy is both a tribute to Freud's intellectual legacy and a testament to his importance to modern writers. These writers didn't just absorb psychoanalytic ideas through osmosis—though there's no denying that Freudian theory, as it was being popularized by midcentury, was very much in the air.

People like Auden were readers of Freud. Serious readers of him, in fact. Like almost everyone who was anyone in 20th-century European culture.

So "In Memory of Sigmund Freud" is a response to Freud's work, not an attempt to tell the story of his life. There are biographical bits. But these bits are concentrated near the beginning of the poem, which builds toward an impassioned account of the grief felt by the natural and mythical worlds after Freud's passing.

Pretty sweet, if we do say so ourselves.

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