This account of a teacher in Austria—a friend of Freud and one of the millions of victims of the Holocaust—is “beautifully written and deeply moving” (Joyce Carol Oates).
Peter Singer’s Pushing Time Away is a rich and loving portrait of the author’s grandfather, David Oppenheim, from the turn of the twentieth century to the end of his life in a concentration camp during the Second World War. Oppenheim, a Jewish teacher of Greek and Latin living in Vienna, was a contemporary and friend of both Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. With his wife, Amalie, one of the first women to graduate in math and physics from the University of Vienna, he witnessed the waning days of the Hapsburg Empire, the nascence of psychoanalysis, the grueling years of the First World War, and the rise of anti-Semitism and Nazism.
Told partly through Oppenheim’s personal papers, including letters to and from his wife and children, Pushing Time Away blends history, anecdote, and personal investigation to pull the story of one extraordinary life out of the millions lost to the Holocaust.
A contemporary philosopher known for such works as The Life You Can Save and Animal Liberation, Singer offers a true story of his own family with “all the power of a great novel . . . resonant of The Reader by Bernhard Schlink or An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro” (The New York Times).
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Peter Singer, including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
The renowned and controversial Princeton philosopher Singer (a leading proponent of animal rights) presents here a portrait of his grandfather, David Oppenheim, an accomplished classicist, occasional collaborator with Freud and long-standing participant in Viennese psychoanalytic circles. In an aunt's attic in Melbourne, Singer found a trove of letters from Oppenheim to Singer's grandmother Amalie Pollak, and then went searching for additional documentation in the Austrian archives and for his grandfather's surviving students. After a slow start, the result is an altogether engrossing, multilevel journey. Singer richly recaptures the sparkling intellectual and social life, and the ultimate tragedy, of Viennese Jews. He also uses the history to reflect upon his own philosophical commitments, which he does always with an appropriately light touch, complementing, never overshadowing, the drama of his grandparents' story. The homoerotic relations that both his grandfather and grandmother pursued become an occasion for Singer to ponder the ancient world's tolerance of sexual diversity. Oppenheim's letters and other documentation provide a fascinating, insider's view of Freud's circle in the early years of psychoanalytical theory. Freud's tyrannical treatment of those with differing viewpoints, including Oppenheim, leads Singer to reflect upon the meaning of free intellectual inquiry. The last chapters are riveting and sad Austria's Anschluss with Nazi Germany in 1938, the illusion that life can somehow go on, the departure of the children to Australia, the desperate efforts from faraway Melbourne to wrench the parents from a world collapsing upon them. Written with intellectual breadth and accessible prose, Singer's book could find a wide readership.