THE best preface to this journal written by a young girl belonging to
the upper middle class is a letter by Sigmund Freud dated April 27,
1915, a letter wherein the distinguished Viennese psychologist testifies
to the permanent value of the document:
"This diary is a gem. Never before, I believe, has anything been written
enabling us to see so clearly into the soul of a young girl, belonging
to our social and cultural stratum, during the years of puberal
development. We are shown how the sentiments pass from the simple egoism
of childhood to attain maturity; how the relationships to parents
and other members of the family first shape themselves, and how they
gradually become more serious and more intimate; how friendships are
formed and broken. We are shown the dawn of love, feeling out towards
its first objects. Above all, we are shown how the mystery of the sexual
life first presses itself vaguely on the attention, and then takes
entire possession of the growing intelligence, so that the child suffers
under the load of secret knowledge but gradually becomes enabled to
shoulder the burden. Of all these things we have a description at once
so charming, so serious, and so artless, that it cannot fail to be of
supreme interest to educationists and psychologists.
"It is certainly incumbent on you to publish the diary. All students of
my own writings will be grateful to you."
In preparing these pages for the press, the editor has toned down
nothing, has added nothing, and has suppressed nothing. The only
alterations she has made have been such as were essential to conceal the
identity of the writer and of other persons mentioned in the document.
Consequently, surnames, Christian names, and names of places, have been
changed. These modifications have enabled the original author of the
diary to allow me to place it at the free disposal of serious readers.
No attempt has been made to correct trifling faults in grammar and other
inelegancies of style. For the most part, these must not be regarded
as the expression of a child's incapacity for the control of language.