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White Hotel, The

lisa freud novel life

a novel by D. M. Thomas, published in 1981. This ambitious, intricate novel attempts to combine reflections on the Holocaust, a deconstruction of psychoanalytic insights, and speculations on telepathy and precognition. In the prologue, Freud introduces the reader to the case of his (fictitious) patient Anna G., whose pornographic fantasies in verse and prose form the first two chapters of the novel. Anna's dream-world, in which her sexual imaginings are acted out in a theatre of death and destruction, provides Freud with supporting evidence for his evolving theory of the death instinct as a motivating psychic force. He sees the roots of her problematic behaviour in her memories of her mother's adultery, her own disturbed sexual history, and her own probable homosexuality; Chapter 3 is presented in the form of a psychoanalytic paper. In Chapter 4, the real Anna is introduced as an ageing opera singer, Lisa Erdmann. After undergoing psychoanalysis, she has made a tentative success of her life and career; in a retrospective correspondence with Freud discussing her case, however, she discreetly points out the limitations of his therapeutic insights, locating her repressed Jewishness as a major cause of her psychopathology. An encounter with a Soviet opera singer leads Lisa to marriage, surrogate motherhood, and the promise of a peaceful old age in the abandoned Ukrainian setting of her childhood. But her Jewish origins and connections devastate her life; in order to retain her son, Lisa is forced to accept her Jewish heritage. They are sent to Babi Yar, where she is savagely murdered with a bayonet by Soviet soldiers in a transformed re-enactment of her early fantasies. Thus the novel extends Freud's theories by presenting past, present, and future as a psychic continuum, indicating that Lisa's fantasies derive as much from telepathy and precognition as from childhood material. In the final, surrealistic chapter, the dead Lisa finally comes to terms with her life and its significant figures in a fantasized Palestine.

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