The Arty Semite

The Witty Inclemency of Clement Freud

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

When Sir Clement Freud died last spring in London, the U.K. media’s outpouring of affection surprised some readers.

A grandson of Sigmund Freud who was no longer on speaking terms with his brother, the painter Lucian Freud, Sir Clement was a journalist, bon vivant, television personality, and onetime Member of Parliament, but none of his varied identities seemed to account for the genuine affection which he enjoyed. When I asked one British friend for further explanation, I got the faltering reply: “Well, you see, he made a TV commercial for dog food…”

Now, fortunately, the collection “A Feast of Freud: The Wittiest Writings of Clement Freud” appears from Bantam Press UK to explain more. Bantam has also published “Freud on Food,” an anthology of gourmandises by this demanding, highly conspicuous consumer of the good life.

“A Feast of Freud” gives a fuller range of its author’s activities, especially as an unlikely but persistent sports correspondent. In an empathetic 1993 article, he describes how a fellow dubious candidate for athletic supremacy, an Oxbridge economist named Geoffrey Myers, vanquishes all rivals at a world championship in the “minority sport” of tiddly-winks. Freud approvingly quotes the legendary British Jewish boxing promoter Jack Solomons about a fighter who “wouldn’t even have to go into the ring…if world championships were handed out for decency and sheer niceness.”

Although his moods could be changeable, similar good fellowship is reflected in Freud’s 1992 article about cooking dinner for actor and author Stephen Fry. After describing Fry’s Hungarian Jewish origins, Freud recounts: “Fry got hiccups. I cured them,” proving that healing instincts are shared by different generations of the Freud family.

The intriguing 2007 article, “Analyzing Sigmund Freud: The Reflections of a Grandson,” praises Jed Rubenfeld’s “The Interpretation of Murder: A Novel,” an acclaimed historical murder tale set during Freud’s 1909 visit to America, published in 2006 by Henry Holt. When Clement Freud’s Aunt Anna, herself a distinguished contributor to psychoanalysis, turned 80, she received congratulatory telegrams, including one which read: “The rapists from Philadelphia send their congratulations and good wishes.” This turns out to have been a telegraph office mistake for “Therapists from Philadelphia…”

The occasionally grumpy, dilettantish, but ultimately life-celebrating Freud dined out on such anecdotes for decades, and it is good to have some of them preserved in book form.

Watch a collection of Clement Freud’s more memorable media moments:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Clement Freud, Stephen Fry, Sigmund Freud

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.