Sigmund Freud's Letter to Edvard Collin

There is an art installation among the windows of Kensington Market wherein Sigmund Freud has written a letter to Edvard Collin. It me...


There is an art installation among the windows of Kensington Market wherein Sigmund Freud has written a letter to Edvard Collin. It mentions Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Little Match girl, and if you know Hans Christian Andersen, you might know that he was somewhat infatuated with the non-reciprocating Edvard Collin and upon his death, left with him his estate. I’ve never really paid much attention to either Freud or Andersen until I came across this letter. I thought I’d like to share what he wrote because when I read it, I found it was both insightful and a little heartbreaking. 
Dear Edvard Collin,
Not being at all certain as to the purpose of my writing to you, a gentleman whose acquaintance I have never made. To be completely honest with oneself is good practice as I have discovered in myself analysis what comes to lift is not always agreeable.


As the Warden of the H.C.A. (Hans Christian Anderson) Estate you are no doubt familiar with the late Mr. Anderson’s story Little Match Girl. I recently re-read it and there was comfort there for me after the loss of my dear daughter Sophie. Perhaps you wonder how the sad death of a poor young beggar girl could offer any solace when common opinion holds to moral disagreeableness regarding beggary and poor houses; many feel nothing at all. . The match bundles the little girl carried in her apron were the allowable ploy for street begging, a farthing each and not to be used for fear of blows from her father. With her hair covered in snow, hands numbed by the cold, she dared light one match to afford her warmth, then another and one more each blazed and warmed her for a moment then burned out with the vision that each allowed.
"Grandmother", cried the little one. "Oh, take me with you; you go away once the light goes out." Nothing remains but the cold, the dark wall behind. She rubbed an entire bundle of matches against the wall -such a blaze; Grandmother takes the little girl in her arms and flies into brightness so very very high.
The story could have ended there and the reader would have been none the wiser perchance lesser but then that prospect the writer may undertake. At the cold hour of dawn the girl is found with a smiling mouth, her back leaning against the wall, burned out matches in hand; frozen to death. In the calm of freeze not acting in desperation or surrender the girl creates, tying unfastened ends into a rapport of understanding, a bond with the real of her place. The discovery of this choice implies a change in her position with regard to her Father, her poverty, her own body. not following a wish, she required no alibi for a desire which had nothing as its object. An endless encore. Uncanny as it may seem it was not the courage I only imagined her to have, rather a way to live in a time when death touches loved ones a terrible war has ended a new one on the horizon and the frailness of anatomy makes its presence known. None are agreeable to me and I thank you for your kindness in receiving this letter.
Sincerely, 
Sigmund Freud
I'm not particularly sure as to why it breaks my heart -maybe it's the way he ends his letter with thanks to Mr. Collin for receiving the letter but making it feel like thanks for receiving his feelings of loss, or the way he seems to have written it without much a thought for punctuation or flow, or the way he recaps the story as if he wanted to incite the same feelings in Mr. Collin as it did in himself, or maybe it's the fact that he addressed it to Edvard Collin, the man in ownership of the Hans Christian Andersen Estate, loved by Mr. Andersen but did not love him back.

I can never really be sure.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. The letter is so depressing and heavy on the heart :'(
    I want to see that letter irl someday

    ReplyDelete