[Paleopsych] CHE: (Lous Andreas-Salome) A New Translation Shows There's More to a Muse Than Relationships With Famous Men
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A New Translation Shows There's More to a Muse Than Relationships With Famous
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.10.21
By RICHARD BYRNE
Raleigh G. Whitinger, professor of German at the University of Alberta
Lou Andreas-Salomé is best known for the company she kept: Friedrich
Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, Sigmund Freud. But Mr. Whitinger argues
that Andreas-Salomé's prominent roles as muse, lover, and collaborator
overshadowed her own creative and critical work, much of it concerned
with feminism and its discontents. His new translation of a cycle of
novellas by Andreas-Salomé, The Human Family: Stories (University of
Nebraska Press), opens a door into this oft-neglected aspect of her
Q. Why have Andreas-Salomé's own writings been ignored by many
A. She became known mainly due to her relationships to important men.
As a result of that ... the interest in her writings more or less fell
under the table. First of all, there is the whole sensation of it.
People in the more male-centered intellectual circles find it to be a
rather sensational sequence of relationships and affairs, and focus
merely on that. That brought with it among many male critics, on the
one hand, a deprecatory attitude. She was perceived as an intellectual
groupie. In other males, it brought more of a possessive, desirous
interest. A sort of idea of captivation.
It's surprising, though, that her fictional work -- her stories, her
writing -- was positively received among the general reading public at
the time. Until the First World War, she was included in and still
discussed in major comprehensive histories of literature of the time
and seemed to fall out after that.
Q. What is the gradual excavation of her literary works adding to our
knowledge of Andreas-Salomé and her intellectual milieu?
A. There is greater interest in her writings, whether they are
critical writings like her book on Ibsen, or some of theoretical
writings on early feminism. ... In addition to those, the rediscovery
of her fiction has given us an array of her documents that describe
the nature of the 1890s second wave of the women's liberation
movement -- some of the complexities of it, of course, but also the
general thrust of it. ... It's adding to our historical picture to see
how the women's movement progressed and how it was mirrored in
Q. Do we know what some of the intellectual figures of her time
thought about her work?
A. I was surprised to find that her book on Nietzsche was received at
the time (1894) by male critics as a psychological masterpiece. ... I
have the distinct feeling that her works were known by and alluded to,
even, by some of the big guns: Thomas Mann, and later, Robert Musil. I
detect distinct echoes. They both mention her. Especially Thomas Mann
... There are aspects of Tonio Kröger, that canonical novella that
everybody reads in German class, that, to me, distinctly echo a
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