Peter Gay

Peter Gay

Peter Gay (born June 20, 1923), is a Jewish American historian of the social history of ideas, born as Peter Joachim Fröhlich in Berlin, where he was educated at the Goethe-Gymnasium. After witnessing Kristallnacht in 1938, he fled Nazi Germany in 1939. His family initially booked passage on the SS "St. Louis" (whose passengers were eventually denied visas) but fortuitously changed their booking to an earlier voyage to Cuba. He came to the United States in 1941 and took American citizenship in 1946 where he changed his name from Fröhlich (German for "happy") to Gay. Gay received his education at the University of Denver, where he was awarded a BA in 1946 and at Columbia University where he was awarded an MA in 1947 and PhD in 1951. Gay worked as political science professor at Columbia between 1948-1955 and as history professor from 1955-1969. He taught at Yale from 1969 until his retirement in 1993. He married Ruth Slotkin (d. 2006) in 1959 and has three stepchildren.

Gay's first interest was in intellectual history. His 1959 book, "Voltaire's Politics" examined Voltaire as a politician and how his politics influenced the ideas that Voltaire championed in his writings. Gay followed the success of "Voltaire's Politics" with a wider history of the Enlightenment, "The Enlightenment: An Interpretation" (1969), for which he was honored with the National Book Award in 1967 [ [ National Book Foundation Website award winners for 1967] ] and the Mecher Book Prize. Gay's 1968 book, "Weimar Culture" was considered at the time to be a ground-breakingWho|date=February 2008 cultural history of the Weimar Republic. Starting in 1978 with "Freud, Jews and Other Germans", an examination of the impact of Freudian ideas on German culture, Gay has become increasingly interested in psychology. Many of his works focus on the social impact of psychoanalysis. Gay is a leading champion of Psychohistory and an admirer of Sigmund Freud.


*AHA Award for Scholarly Distinction.
*Jewish Distinction Award
*Civil Rights Awareness Award (Presented by the NAACP)
*"Geschwister-Scholl-Preis" (Munich, 1999)


*"The Dilemma of Democratic Socialism: Eduard Bernstein's Challenge to Marx", 1952.
*"Voltaire's Politics: The Poet as Realist", 1959.
*"The Party of Humanity: Essays in the French Enlightenment", 1964.
*"The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Rise of Modern Paganism", 1966.
*"The Loss of Mastery: Puritan Historians in Colonial America", 1966.
*"Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider", 1968.
*"The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Science of Freedom", 1969.
*"The Bridge of Criticism: Dialogues on the Enlightenment", 1970.
*"Historians at Work", 1972.
*co-written with R.K. Webb, "Modern Europe", 1973.
*"The Enlightenment; A Comprehensive Anthology", 1973.
*"Style in History", 1974.
*"Art and Act: On Causes in History—Manet, Gropius, Mondrian", 1976.
*"Freud, Jews, and Other Germans: Masters and Victims in Modernist Culture", 1978.
*"Education of the Senses", 1984.
*"The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud" - 5 vols, 1984-1998 (includes "The Education of the Senses" and "The Cultivation of Hatred")
*"Freud for Historians", 1985.
*"The Tender Passion", 1986.
*"A Godless Jew: Freud, Atheism, and the Making of Psychoanalysis", 1987.
*"Freud: A Life for Our Time", 1988.
*"The German-Jewish Legacy-and I: Some Personal Reflections" pages 203-210 from "American Jewish Archives", Volume 40, 1988.
*Editor "A Freud Reader", 1989.
*"Reading Freud: Explorations & Entertainments", 1990.
*"Sigmund Freud and Art: His Personal Collection of Antiquities", 1993.
*"The Cultivation of Hatred", 1993.
*"The Naked Heart", 1995.
*"The Enlightenment and the Rise of Modern Paganism" revised edition, 1995.
*"Pleasure Wars", 1998.
*"My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin", 1998 (autobiography).
*"Mozart", 1999.
*"Schnitzler's Century", 2002.
*"Modernism: The Lure of Heresy", 2007.



*Toews, John "Historicizing Psychoanalysis: Freud in His Time and of Our Time" pages 504-545 from "Journal of Modern History", Volume 63, 1991.

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