There is a large literature on writing, and a smaller one on psychanalysis and writing. If the act of writing produces a letter that then finds its way in the world, creating its readers but also folding back on the writer, what is it that produces the writing itself? Much of the time academic writing is defensive, taking refuge in obscure terminology or supposedly "objective" distance, erasing the writer as if the resulting text can be a kind of absolute, offering a set of truths unadulterated by the writer's passions. S. Freud's writing sublimates his distress, making a theory out of it; yet it is also the prose of a prophet and moralist, increasingly so as the 1920s and 1930s wore on. Freud's extraordinary ability to observe and then draw far-reaching conclusions that would have an impact right through the culture is one thing that marks him out as a great writer.