2017: XIX

Gradiva. Storia di un’ossessione onomastica

Volker Kohlheim

Pubblicato 2018-11-01

Parole chiave

  • Gradiva,
  • Freud,
  • name,
  • psychoanalysis,
  • delusion,
  • repression,
  • obsession,
  • translation,
  • ...Più


The name Gradiva first appeared in a short novel by the German author Wilhelm Jensen. It became famous because Sigmund Freud analyzed Jensen’s novella in his study Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s ‘Gradiva’ (1907). In this story the young archaeologist, Norbert Hanold, is obsessed by a classlcal relief representlng a young woman walking in a special, rather unnatural way. Therefore he calls her Gradiva. The young woman appears to him in dreams when Vesuvius is about to erupt in Pompeii, and he feels he has to visit this ancient Italian site. Here the same phantasmagorical figure appears to him. At first he believes her to be the incamation of Gradiva, but later realizes that she is not the reincarnation of a Pompeiian maiden, but a childhood friend. The aim of this contribution is to show that at the root of Hanold’s delusion there lies, not a physical likeness between the archeologist’s friend and the ancient relief, as Freud asserts, or a fetishistic obsesslon, as his followers claim, but both first name and surname of his childhood girl friend.