REIK, THEODOR. (1888-1969). Austrian psychoanalyst. ALS. (“Theodore Reik”). ½p. 4to. New York, June 9, 1969. To Mrs. Benjamin Levinson of Chicago.
“Many thanks for your kind lines. I am afraid that you over-appreciate my writings; I do not think that the Jews are willing to be always wandering, this function is I believe unconscious. The Jews themselves need not be aware of their lot. Don’t forget that I wrote about the Jews from my present point of view, but since I became 81 years a few weeks ago, and that it is not likely that I change my view at such an age. Please forgive my handwriting. I am visiting at the post office. I am — or should say, I was — a “regular guy” in my youth. I hope that everything in your life is O.K. and that you will have a wonderful summer. Cordially yours…”
After earning his doctorate from the University of Vienna for which he penned the first psychoanalytic dissertation, Reik studied with Freud who became his financial supporter, mentor and friend. Reik participated in Freud’s Wednesday night meetings while practicing psychoanalysis in Vienna but, as a Jew, like Freud, he was forced to flee the Nazis, and left his post at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute to immigrate to the U.S. in 1938. Reik founded the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis after he was refused membership in the New York Psychoanalytic Society because he lacked a medical degree; this despite Freud’s unequivocal support of Reik’s qualifications.
Reik was deeply interested in Judaism and authored numerous volumes on this and other subjects including The Compulsion to Confess, Listening with the Third Ear, Ritual: Four Psychoanalytic Studies, and Jewish Wit, published by Gamut Press in 1962. The near mythic concept of the “Wandering Jew” extends back at least to the 13th century and the story of the Jew who mocked Jesus on His way to the crucifixion and was punished to wander the earth until he met Him again at the Second Coming has found its place in literature, art and other media. The story also has roots in the Jewish diaspora.
Our letter was written just six months before Reik’s death on December 31, 1969. Folded with some light creasing and in very good condition; with the original envelope.