Vienna

Freud's home for most of his life, and for all but the bitter end of his professional career, turn-of-the-century Vienna is a palpable presence throughout the book.  The capital of what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it had undergone extensive expansion and architectural revitalisation under Emperor Franz Joseph I, who reigned from the mid-1800s until 1916.  Franz Joseph also worked to diminish institutional prejudice against Jews and establish equal rights, attracting an influx of upwardly-mobile middle class families, including Freud's.  Nevertheless, Freud does not hesitate to record the lingering presence of antisemitism in his own experience of Viennese society, as well as that of his friends and family, at various points throughout the book.  It was only when Nazism reached his doorstep that an elderly Freud would finally leave the city which had provided him with the setting and subjects for his greatest work.  

 

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