FREUD’S TRIP TO ORVIETO

The Great Doc­tor’s Un­re­solved Con­fronta­tion with An­ti­semitism, Death, and Ho­mo­eroti­cism; His Pas­sion for Paint­ings; and the Writer in His Foot­steps

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Ni­cholas Fox We­ber, Belle­vue Lit­er­ary Press, Hard­cover $26.99 (352pp), 978-1-942658-26-9

In the first few years of the six­teenth cen­tury, in Orvieto’s splen­did medieval cathe­dral, Luca Sig­norelli painted The Last Judg­ment, a sprawl­ing, shock­ing fresco of mus­cled nude men, bared but­tocks, hor­rific vi­o­lence, an­tichrists, an­gels, and evil may­hem. Sig­mund Freud sim­ply called it the great­est art­work he’d ever seen. Months later, for very Freudian rea­sons, he sud­denly couldn’t re­call the painter’s name and then, when re­minded it was Sig­norelli, his mem­ory wiped it­self clean of what the paint­ing de­picted. So, what was the old boy re­press­ing? Did all those butts unglue this frag­ile Jew’s sex­u­al­ity? With a barely sup­pressed grin, Ni­cholas Fox We­ber be­lieves the ho­mo­erotic im­agery was to blame and this witty, art-savvy project me­an­ders in all man­ner of de­light­ful di­rec­tions to build the case.

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