Bringing Freud to America

Publishers, Pirates and the Popularization of His Ideas


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About the Book

In 1900, hardly anyone in America had heard of Sigmund Freud, but by 1920 nearly everyone had. This is the story of the translators, editors, journalists, publishers, promoters and booksellers who first brought Freud to American readers. They included scientists and scoundrels, reckless risk-takers and buttoned-down businessmen, puritans and libertines, anarchists and capitalists, passionate freedom fighters and racist bigots. “American publishers,” Freud wrote to one colleague, “are a dangerous breed.” Elsewhere he called them rascals, liars, swindlers, crooks, and pirates.
Here are accounts of their drunken parties, political crusades, questionable business practices, criminal prosecutions, shameless marketing, and blatant plagiarism. There’s even a suicide and a murder. And lots of sex (it’s a book about Freud, after all). Ideas that Freud promoted are woven so tightly into our daily lives today that, like gravity or air, we hardly notice them. This book, based on hundreds of unpublished records, explains how they first took root in American minds more than a century ago.

About the Author(s)

Michael Edmonds is a writer, teacher, and historian based in Madison, Wisconsin. His previous books on history, nature, and folklore explore how ideas have moved through time and space in oral, printed, and digital forms. His work has won national awards from the American Folklore Society, the American Association for State and Local History, and the American Library Association.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Edmonds
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 226
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9223-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5007-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: “No ideas but in things” 1
Timeline 7
People 9
Publishers 11
1. Anarchists and Alienists, 1882–1900 15
2. Jelliffe’s and White’s Medical Monographs, 1908–1917 22
3. Freud’s Lectures at Clark University, 1909 37
4. The Mainstream Press Discovers Freud, 1910–1912 41
5. George Brett Puts Freud into Bookstores, 1913–1914 51
6. Freud Among the Bohemians, 1914–1918 63
7. Dr. William Robinson, Crusader and Crank, 1915 77
8. Moffat, Yard and Co. Capitalize on the “New Psychology,” 1915–1918 85
9. Freud Among the Censors 98
10. Horace Liveright Bets on Freud, 1920–1924 108
11. André Tridon, Boldest of the Pirates, 1921 125
12. Freud in the Modern Library, 1924 and After 132
Epilogue: Freud’s Books at ­Mid-Century 141
Appendix: First American Editions of Freud, 1900–1924 151
Chapter Notes 169
Bibliography 191
Index 209