Non­fic­tion

Freud: An Illus­trat­ed Biography

Corinne Maier; Anne Simon, illus.
  • Review
By – June 15, 2015

Biog­ra­phers face dis­tinc­tive chal­lenges: They must not only recon­struct their sub­jects’ lives, but they must also ani­mate those lives to some extent. Fur­ther, they must dis­till the details to craft a sto­ry and they must pro­vide con­text. Maier’s biogra­phies of Marx and Freud, orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 2013 in French, accom­plish ani­ma­tion, selec­tiv­i­ty, and con­text. They are not, how­ev­er, typ­i­cal and would not ful­fill an aca­d­e­m­ic expec­ta­tion for source mate­r­i­al. But they do pro­vide an invig­o­rat­ing read­ing expe­ri­ence, using a com­ic-book for­mat for Karl Marx and Sig­mund Freud to omni­scient­ly nar­rate their own lives. The writ­ing takes a tongue-in-cheek tone while explain­ing dif­fi­cult con­cepts like Marx­ism and social­ist rev­o­lu­tion as well as Freud’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary psy­chi­a­try. The Marx biog­ra­phy effec­tive­ly con­veys his mul­ti­ple strug­gles with ide­o­log­i­cal accep­tance and per­son­al finance. The Freud biog­ra­phy has much tougher ter­rain to con­tend with and uses phal­li (which could eas­i­ly be mis­tak­en for mush­rooms) in the art. Teens will appre­ci­ate the irrev­er­ent tone and easy-to-read graph­ic for­mat. They may learn a thing or two along the way about these men and their ground­breaking accom­plish­ments. Both biogra­phies pro­vide cra­dle-to-grave cov­er­age; the Marx bi­ography adds a few pages to depict his lega­cy, while the Freud biog­ra­phy con­cludes with Freud look­ing into the twen­ty-first century. 

These biogra­phies are best for teens aged 14 and up. 
Bar­bara Kras­ner is the pub­lish­er of Holo​caustkidlit​.com, a web­site and search­able online data­base of Holo­caust chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture. She holds an MA in His­to­ry from New Jer­sey’s William Pater­son Uni­ver­si­ty, where she teach­es the Holo­caust and cre­ative writ­ing. She also holds an MFA in Writ­ing for Chil­dren & Young Adults from the Ver­mont Col­lege of Fine Arts.

Discussion Questions