Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Interpretation of Murder

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The Interpretation of Murder

A Novel

by Jed Rubenfeld

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2007, 450 pages

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The Interpretation of Murder is inspired by the real-life mystery surrounding Freud's one and only visit to America in 1909 when he came to deliver lectures at Clark University. The trip appeared to be a tremendous success and Freud was portrayed glowingly in newspapers. However, he returned to Europe referring to Americans as "savages" and "primitives" and blaming America for his breakdown in health, even though he had been sick well before visiting the USA.

Although many of Freud's theories have been rejected, his memory, and some of his methods, live on. One example is the "Freudian slip" (medically known as parapraxia - from the Greek para - beside, and praxis - action) in which a slip of the tongue is thought to reveal a repressed motive. Another, is the "talking-cure" - when Freud first proposed that patients be allowed to talk over their problems his methods were considered revolutionary and not all that welcome. Today, talk therapy is a fundamental part of treatment, even amongst psychiatrists who have rejected Freud's other theories. More about Freud at BookBrowse.


The Swiss psychiatrist and writer Carl Jung was born in 1875 and died in 1961. His work focused on the exploration of the unconscious. The ubiquitous Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory test is based on his theories.

Also of interest:
An interview with Jed Rubenfeld at BookBrowse.
The Interpretation of Murder website - which includes an enjoyable but too brief photographic tour of historical New York.

This article was originally published in September 2006, and has been updated for the June 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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