Widely acclaimed for giving "an understanding of the connection between Nietzsche’s personal experience and his most famous ideas (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times) in her acclaimed biography, Nietzsche in Turin, Lesley Chamberlain now renders a similar service to readers of Freud. In The Secret Artist, part biography, part literary criticism, she takes the reader into the mind of Freud, toward a better understanding of the thinker, his work, and art itself. The very idea of the subconscious as a constant, active presence in our daily lives was Freud’s greatest contribution and has allowed generations of people to experience their lives more deeply. His rigorous exploration of the dynamism and structures of the subconscious, Chamberlain argues, was in itself an important work of art.
Using Freud’s own writing on art and the aesthetic theories of thinkers ranging from Nietzsche to Lionel Trilling, Chamberlain examines Freud's art and shows how his imaginative creations have revolutionized not only mental health, but our thinking about art in general, by opening up the individual subconscious as a subject. In elegant, accessible prose she describes how "Freud split the aesthetic atom, releasing a vast energy for individual creativity.”