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An original work of applied psychoanalysis, Hamlet and Oedipus was initially published in 1910 as an article in the American Journal of Psychology with the title "The Oedipus Complex as an Explanation of the 'Mystery of Hamlet."' It was translated into German in 1911 in a brochure in the series Schriften zur angewandten Seelekunde as "Das Problem des Hamlet und der Oedipus Komplex."

In 1923 it appeared as the first chapter of Essays in Applied Psychoanalysis (Hogarth Press, London, 1964) as "A Psychoanalytic Study of Hamlet." In its current form the work appeared in 1949 as Hamlet and Oedipus, together with an essay on the interpretation of Hamlet, an article on "The Death of Hamlet's Father" signed by Jones, and an article by Ella Freeman Sharpe, "The Impatience of Hamlet," which had previously appeared in 1929 in the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis.

There are eight chapters in the book, which is an attempt to spread Sigmund Freud's ideas and improve the recognition of psychoanalysis as a science. With respect to Freud, aside from the theme of parricide, the author also discussed matricide, and the homosexual and homicidal nature of the son's aggression toward the father. Sharpe's essay continues Jones's work through reference to libidinal development, regression, and pregenital attachment, and shows how the difficult confrontation with the oedipal conflict results in procrastination and its transformation into blind action and violence.

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