Book Event: The Story of Sidonie C: with Jane Czyzselska and Stella Duffy

by Gay’s the Word bookshop Friday 20th November, 2020 on Zoom

London’s independent LGBT book specialist, offering a wide choice of gay books and film that goes well beyond the mainstream. Est. 1979, the author Armistead Maupin describes GTW as ‘the fountainhead of queer literature in Britain.


An event inspired by the recently translated book The Story of Sidonie C by Ines Rieder and Diana Voigt (translated by Jill Hannum and Ines Rieder) published by Helena History Press. 

At the age of 17 Margarethe Csonka fell deeply in love with a stunning and notorious upper-class courtesan, attempted suicide when she was rejected and was sent by her parents to Prof. Freud to be “normalized”. The attempted cure was a failure. 

Now finally available in English, this biography of Margarethe Csonka-Trautenegg (1900-1999) offers a fully-rounded picture of a willful and psychologically complex aesthete. As Freud’s never-before-identified “case of female homosexuality”, her analysis continues to spark often heated psychoanalytic debate.

Margarethe’s (“Sidonie’s”) experiences spanned the twentieth century. Jewish by birth, she fled upper-class life in Vienna for Cuba to escape the Nazis, only to return post-war to a “leaden” city and relative poverty. Fleeing again, she took various jobs abroad, and returned permanently only in old age. The interviews and taped oral histories that form the basis of this book were produced during the final five of her years. Well-researched historical background information supplements the story of Margarethe’s journey across time and continents.


photo credit: Gino Sprio

“From my perspective as a queer woman, a writer and a trainee psychotherapist, there is so much about this book that is worth investigating. While Freud was among the first in the medical profession to acknowledge that our gayness was not a sin but a part of our humanity, his work has also been used to brutalise gay people for decades, including notorious concepts like conversion therapy, that the main psychotherapeutic bodies in the UK only condemned in the past decade. Those of us who have lived queer lives throughout these changes know we still have a long way to go, and redressing past ‘histories’ is part of that journey.”
– Stella Duffy 

Stella Duffy is a prolific writer, co-director of Fun Palaces, yoga teacher and trainee existential therapist https://stelladuffy.blog/ 

@stellduffy


Photo credit: Holly Falconer

“Ever since Freud wrote his paper on a lesbian patient 100 years ago in 1920, the true identity of the unnamed patient remained a mystery. He couldn’t have known that his patient would still desire women into her hundredth year, and that one day, she would get to tell her own story. This is a fascinating and important book – for me particularly so, because of my personal connection to one of the patient’s lovers – but also for anyone interested in queer, psychoanalytic and Jewish history.”
– Jane Czyzselska

Jane Czyzselska is a psychotherapist and writer. She works in private practice and combines her love of writing, psychotherapy and documenting LGBTIQ+ lived experience in contributions to journals and events. She is the former editor of DIVA. https:/tinyurl.com/LGBTQItherapy

@czyzselska