Lydia Flem is a french writer, psychoanalyst and photographer.
Lydia Flem is the daughter of a Russian father and German mother who fought in the French Resistance, both parents survived internment by the Nazis in the Second World War.
She has written a number of books, including ‘Freud the Man’ ( Other Press) and ‘Casanova, of the Art of Happiness’, which have been published in English by Penguin ( London) and Farrar&Straus ( New York) and the best-seller » How I Emptied My Parents’House ».
Her books are translated in 19 languages, including chinese and hebrew.
Her last novel » La Reine Alice » received several prizes.
She published in autumn 2013 her first book of photos : » Journal implicite », La Martinière/Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
Member of the Royal Academy of Belgium.
- 2011- Lady Cobalt. Journal photographique, Imec (Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine), Caen, hanging Alain Fleischer ( 29 janvier – 27 février).
- 2011-12- The photographic Diary of Queen Alice/ Le Journal photographique de la Reine Alice, Espace photographique Contretype, Bruxelles, (29 novembre 2011 – 15 janvier 2012).
- 2014 – Exposition personnelle/solo show/ 6e Mois européen de la photographie à l’Institut français de Berlin, curator Fabrice Gabriel.
- 2015 – Exposition à la MEP (Maison Européenne de la photographie, Paris) du 15 avril au 14 juin 2015, curator Jean-Luc Monterosso.
- 2015 – Fiac (Galerie Françoise Paviot).
with texts of Yves Bonnefoy, Alain Fleischer, Fabrice Gabriel, Hélène Giannecchini, Agnès de Gouvion Saint-Cyr, Donatien Grau, Ivan Jablonka, Jean-Luc Monterosso, Catherine Perret, François Vitrani.
On February 2011, Flem published a more recent element of her own history, an autobiographical novel, “Queen Alice,” (La Reine Alice) with Les éditions du Seuil inspired by a real-life bout with breast cancer. Describing chemotherapy sessions of Alice (herself), Flem evokes a looking-glass world where a White Rabbit (her oncologist) is as bafflingly ambiguous as in Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece.
Flem’s understanding of human emotions is profound; she previously published 1986’s “The Daily Lives of Freud and His Patients” (La vie quotidienne de Freud et de ses patients) from Les editions Hachette, followed by 1991’s “Freud the Man” (L’homme Freud) from Les éditions du Seuil, available in translation from The Other Press.
Analyzing her reactions and self-therapy, Flem describes being “cradled” by the song “Don’t Explain” co-written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr., as if a reflection of her illness’s inexplicability. When the White Rabbit inquires how Alice is feeling, she replies by singing a different song, the ironic comic number, “Tout va très bien, Madame la Marquise” (Everything’s Fine, Ma’am) composed by the French Jewish songwriter Paul Misraki and popularized by the 1930s French Jewish bandleader Ray Ventura.
Reading also provides comfort, notably Paul Celan’s poem “Corona” (“Time returns to the Shell. In the mirror it’s Sunday”) which Alice discovers “wraps her in words like a blanket, placing her beyond suffering’s reach.” She also pores over Kafka’s novel “The Castle”, relishing a passage about self-reliance in pursuing one’s voyage:
The villagers who sent him away or seemed to fear him struck him as less dangerous, for basically they were rejecting only his person, while helping him to concentrate his forces.
Courageously pursuing her own voyage, Flem has produced an inspiring and compelling text in the family tradition of survival.
Princeton University Press 2016
Makers of Jewish Modernity
Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
Judaism Essentiel and Mysterious
« When Sigismund Schlomo Freud turned seven, his father, Jakob, opened the family Torah for him. The biblical story he presented for Sigmund to read was from the remarkable bilingual German-Hebrew edition, the Israelitische Bibel. The stories in this edition were illustrated and included commentaries by the Reform rabbi Ludwig Philippson in the spirit of the Aufklärung, the Judaism of the En- lightenment. This exceptional version of the Bible is subtitled Den heiligen Urtext, and for Freud this first book of stories and images was a fundamental, founding text. »
(translated by Catherine Temerson)