The choice of essays is excellent, covering the whole chronological range of Freud’s writings on art and literature.”—J.
is a Polynesian word, the translation of which provides difficulties for us because we no longer possess the idea which it connotes.
Thus, kings and chiefs are possessed of great power, and it is death for their subjects to address them directly; but a minister or other person of greater mana than common, can approach them unharmed, and can in turn be approached by their inferiors without risk….
So, too, indirect taboos depend for their strength on the mana of him who opposes them; if it is a chief or a priest, they are more powerful than those imposed by a common person.” The author states that there are permanent and temporary taboos.
A general taboo may also be imposed upon a large district like an ecclesiastical interdict, and may then last for years.
If I judge my readers’ impressions correctly I dare say that after hearing all that was said about taboo they are far from knowing what to understand by it and where to store it in their minds.Though incomprehensible to us they are taken as a matter of course by those who are under their dominance.As we are in need of an impartial presentation of the subject of taboo before subjecting it to psychoanalytic consideration I shall now cite an excerpt from the article “Taboo” in the Encyclopedia Britannica written by the anthropologist Northcote W.It was still current with the ancient Romans: their word “sacer” was the same as the taboo of the Polynesians.The “[Greek]” of the Greeks and the “Kodaush” of the Hebrews must also have signified the same thing which the Polynesians express through their word taboo and what many races in America, Africa (Madagascar), North and Central Asia express through analogous designations.In addition to the writings on Jensen's Gradiva and Medusa, the essays are: "Psychopathic Characters on the Stage," "The Antithetical Meaning of Primal Words," "The Occurrence in Dreams of Material from Fairy Tales," "The Theme of the Three Caskets," "The Moses of Michelangelo," "Some Character Types Met with in Psycho-analytic Work," "On Transience," "A Mythological Parallel to a Visual Obsession," "A Childhood Recollection from Dichtung und Wahrheit," "The Uncanny," "Dostoevsky and Parricide," and "The Goethe Prize."“These are classic essays, referred to over and over again in work of all sorts, widely read, and extensively used in courses.But until now they have not been collected in English.“Various classes of taboo in the wider sense may be distinguished: 1.natural or direct, the result of ‘mana’ (mysterious power) inherent in a person or thing; 2.The opposite for taboo is designated in Polynesian by the word noa and signifies something ordinary and generally accessible.Thus something like the concept of reserve inheres in taboo; taboo expresses itself essentially in prohibitions and restrictions.