Lou Andreas-Salomé 1861-1937
(Born Louisa von Salome) Russian-born German novelist, novella writer, critic, autobiographer, and psychotherapist.
Known primarily for her associations with several prominent figures in European culture, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Sigmund Freud, Andreas-Salomé produced a diverse body of writings that includes fiction, literary criticism, religious and philosophical works, and psychoanalytic studies. While her works are not often accorded an intrinsic literary value, they nevertheless reflect the growth of a profoundly charismatic, spiritual and independent woman whose sexually liberated, peripatetic life served as a model for subsequent generations of feminists.
Born in St. Petersburg, Andreas-Salomé was the fourth child of a German general in the service of Russian army. As a child she displayed a precocious capacity as an autodidact, mastering German and French. When she was seventeen Andreas-Salomé began studies with a Dutch preacher named Hendrik Gillot, who tutored her in theology and philosophy. She abruptly severed the relationship in 1880 after becoming apprehensive about sexual tensions between her and Gillot. Unwilling to capitulate her independence, Andreas-Salomé resisted her mother's entreaties to marry and adopted a severe study regimen. After becoming ill from the strain of her endeavors, she began a period of convalescence in Italy, where in 1882 she met Nietzsche and the French philosopher Paul R&. The two men and Andreas-Salomé decided to live and work together for the purpose of mutually supporting one another's intellectual development. Despite the idealistic pretensions of this arrangement, Nietzsche soon fell in love with Andreas-Salomé, who broke off their relationship after rejecting his proposal of marriage. In 1887, Andreas-Salomé married Friedrich Carl Andreas, a philologist. For reasons unknown to her biographers, Andreas-Salomé's marriage remained unconsummated, and she found sexual fulfillment in relationships with several other men, including Rilke, whom she met in 1897. Fourteen years his senior, Andreas-Salomé became the exalted subject of many of Rilke's poems, and he credited her with his reawakened sensitivity to simple and concrete expression. In 1911 Andreas-Salomé met Freud at the Weimar Congress of the International Psychoanalytic Association. After attending seminars and lectures, and initiating a correspondence and friendship with Freud, Andreas-Salomé began her own psychoanalytic practice. She died in 1937.
Andreas-Salomé's first published book, Im Kampf um Gott (A Struggle for God), is a thinly disguised roman a clef depicting her experiences with Rée and Nietzsche. Andreas-Salomé produced several other novels during her career which drew general praise for their psychological insight, though none are highly regarded by contemporary standards. More notable are her achievements in her essays and monographs, which range from religious and philosophical meditations to theater reviews and literary criticism. Her third book, Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken, is a study of Nietzsche's life and work that interprets his philosophical activity as symptomatic of his mental illness. Andreas-Salomé's propensity for psychological analysis is also apparent in her study Rainer Maria Rilke, which presents a censorious view of the poet as hysterical and unbalanced. Andreas-Salomé's journal from her years as a student of Freud, In der Schule bei Freud: Tagebuch eines Jahres (The Freud Journal of Lou Andreas-Salomé), sheds an intriguing light on her contributions to psychoanalysis at a critical stage in its development. In her essays on religion, dependent to a large degree upon Nietzsche's philosophy, Andreas-Salomé argued that God is a human invention, a projection of our need for paternalistic love and protection.
Most criticism on Andreas-Salomé is largely biographical, focusing in particular on her relationships with Nietzsche, Rilke, and Freud. This fascination with Andreas-Salomé's life, which some critics maintain unjustly neglects her fictional and dramatic works, is sanctioned by the view that her writings are of minor value and that her real genius lay in her ability to enter the world of male intellectual privilege and influence the development of great ideas on her own terms. More recently, some feminist studies have suggested that this approach perpetuates sexist assumptions about intellectual and artistic creativity, and consequently they have focused more substantially on her works.
Im Kampfum Gott (novel) 1885
Hendrik Ibsens Frauengestalten nach seinen sechs Familien-Dramen (criticism) 1892
[Ibsen's Heroines, 1985]
Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken (criticism) 1894
Menschenkinder (novellas) 1899
Ma: Ein Portrait (novel) 1901
Die Erotik (essay) 1910
Der Teufel und seine GroJfmutter (drama) 1922
Rodinka: Russische Erinnerung (novel) 1923
Rainer Maria Rilke (criticism) 1928
Lebensriickblick: Grundrifi einiger Lebenser innerungen (memoirs) 1951
In derSchule bei Freud: Tagebuch einesJahres, 1912-1913 (journal) 1958
[The Freud Journal of Lou Andreas-Salomé, 1964]
(The entire section is 64 words.)
SOURCE: "Lou Andreas-Salomé," in The Hibbert Journal, Vol. 58, January, 1960, pp. 149-56.
[In the following essay, Hobman offers an overview of Andreas-Salomé's life.]
Lou Andreas-Salomé wanted love—the love of man and the love of God—and she took what she wanted. Throughout her whole being and throughout her whole life she was filled with an awareness of God. This RussoGerman woman writer, famous on the Continent but scarcely known in England, divided her autobiography [Lebensrückblick: Grundrißeioiger Lebenser innerungen, 1951] into separate parts, not in chronological order but according to her experiences; one of the last sections, about Sigmund Freud, is an account of her close friendship with him. She was his disciple, and her intuitive understanding of men and women was further enlarged by his discoveries concerning the psyche, but although she learned much from him, she never learned to explain away religious faith as an illusion. The title of the first and most important chapter in the story of her life is Experience of God.
She recalls that as a very small and naughty child, if she was occasionally whipped by her adoring parents, she complained of this treatment to God who invariably agreed heartily with her resentment; indeed it made him so angry that, for the sake of the father and mother whom she dearly loved, she then persuaded him to ignore the...
(The entire section is 3854 words.)
SOURCE: My Sister, My Spouse: A Biography of Lou Andreas-Salomé, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1962, 320 P.
[Peters is a German-born American educator and critic. In the following excerpt from his biography of AndreasSalomé, he offers an account of her love affair with the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, which left a profound stamp on Rilke's poetry.]
At the end of April, 1897, Lou went to Munich where she was joined by her friend Frieda von Billow, who was to give a public lecture on her exploits in Africa. The Bavarian capital was one of the cities Lou liked to visit, although she did not particularly care for what she called the "Munich atmosphere," that peculiar blend of Bavarian patriotism, incense and beer. Most of her Munich friends were non-Bavarians like herself and congregated in Schwabing, the Munich Latin Quarter. Some of them, like Max Halbe and Frank Wedekind, she had met before in Berlin or Paris. In Munich she got to know Count Edward Keyserling, the architect August Endell, who remained a close friend the rest of her life, and the writers Michael Georg Conrad, Ernst von Wolzogen and Jakob Wassermann. The last, a promising writer whose novel The Jews ofZirndorf had attracted much attention, introduced Lou to the young and unknown Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
Rilke, then twenty-two years old, had recently moved to Munich from Prague, where he was born...
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SOURCE: A review of The Freud Journal of Lou Andreas-Salomé, in The New York Times Book Review, January 3, 1965, p. 5.
[A German-born English poet, translator and critic, Hamburger has been widely praised for his translations of such poets as Friedrich Hoelderlin and Georg TrakL In the following mixed review of The Freud Journal of Lou Andreas-Salomé, he asserts that Andreas-Salomé incisively confronts the central issues in Freud's psychology.]
Of the many kinds of readers who will be interested in [The Freud Journal of Lou Andreas-Slomé], my kind may well be the most peripheral, since I am not a psychologist or even a literary Freudian. It is to such as these that Lou Andreas-Salomés record of the psychoanalytic inner circle's transactions in 1912 and 1913 will prove indispensable for what is revealed, not only about Freud's personality and opinions, but also about the schisms of those years, the secession of men like Adler, Jung and Stekel.
Lou Andreas-Salomé, novelist, poet, essayist, and great friend of the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, and of Nietzsche, took an active interest in psychoanalysis at the age of 50 and was a practicing analyst in her later years. In the beginning, as a privileged member of the inner circle—Freud would address his remarks to her and twice commented on the disturbing effect upon him of her empty chair—she was allowed to...
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SOURCE: "The Wayward Disciple," Frau Lou: Nietzsche's Wayward Disciple, Princeton University Press, 1968, pp. 141-71.
[Binion is an American educator and critic. In the following excerpt from his highly praised biography of Andreas-Salomé, he discusses her 1894 study of Friedrich Nietzsche's life and work.]
[After Nietzsche's breakdown in 1889] Lou could develop no farther as authoress, feminist, or female except as Nietzsche's ex-disciple. In "Der Realismus in der Religion" of late 1891, she implicitly declared herself loyal to Nietzsche's sometime Réealism. Her professed purpose was to pin down "the religious affect," as Nietzsche had prompted her to—and she did identify its two edifying components quite nicely: a feeling of deepest personal insufficiency and the very opposite. Her final purpose was what she took Nietzsche's to have been: religious prophecy. She contended that the "science of religion" must henceforth attend to the religious affect, presumably an all-human affect given a huge recent crop of books arguing from man's "inner need" for religion to its "pragmatic value." And she went on to present worship as the supreme manifestation of man, which rises with him from crude wishing through god-making to a longing for holy communion. She saw nothing to hamper piety in the recognition that gods are man-made; on the contrary, she declared that the only true gods were those knowingly devised...
(The entire section is 5797 words.)
SOURCE: "Freud and Lou Andreas-Salomé," translated by Stanley A. Leavy, in his Modern Writers and Other Essays, Chatto & Windus, 1969, pp. 88-95.
[Hampshire is an English philosopher, critic, and educator. In the following excerpt he discusses Andreas-Salomé's personal and intellectual influence on Sigmund Freud during the years 1912-13.]
Lou Andreas-Salomé was the intimate friend of Nietzsche and of Rilke, and a pupil, friend, and confidante of Freud. She was a sentimental tourist. She can be seen as one of the 'free spirits' of late romanticism, a voracious adorer, Ibsen's Rebecca West, a woman who urged men of intellect to assert their powers, and particularly their powers of intellectual destruction. Shaw, converting the heroines of Ibsen into figures of high comedy, would have been delighted by her. Her writings on the then fashionable topics of femininity and narcissism are often murky and tire-some, as romanticized biology is apt to be; they fall into a half-world of new thought, which is neither literature nor science. But the evidence of her Freud Journal shows that the picture of her we have had so far has been incomplete.
There is an easy explanation of the interest that she aroused in such diverse men of genius: simply that she was an extraordinarily intelligent woman. She could grasp new ideas with a quite unfeigned clarity; she could immediately see...
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SOURCE: Lou Andreas-Salomé, Gordon Fraser, 1984, pp. 74-86.
(Livingstone is an English educator and critic. In the following excerpt she assesses Andreas-Salomé's theories on the historical origins and development of religion.]
When Nietzsche encouraged Lou von Salomé to philosophise about religion, he was recognising an inclination she showed long before she met him. Faith and loss of faith had been her main childhood experience, history of religion had been her main study with both [Hendrik] Gillot and [Alois] Biedermann. She went on thinking about religion all her life. Her theories about art, love, femaleness and Russia are all closely related to her religious views. More specifically, though, during the years 1891-8, and still under Nietzsche's influence, she devoted eleven long essays to this subject.
Some of the essays are more scholarly, some more personal. All suffer from looseness of expression and structure; one would like to rewrite them concisely, put in paragraphing, and request some references and facts. She often talks of history, of developments and changes, without mentioning time or place, and sums up literatures without naming a book; she seems carried away by ideas too pressing to allow time for detail or proof. None the less, all are worth reading: in addition to their interest as part of a contemporary debate, there is in these writings a forthrightness...
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SOURCE: "'Love in a Life': The Case of Nietzsche and Lou Salomé," in The Victorian Newsletter, No. 67, Spring 1985, pp. 14-17.
[In the following essay, Warner speculates that the idealistic "holy trinity" formed between Andreas-Salomé Friedrich Nietzsche, and Paul Rée was fraught with sexual tension and conflicting intentions from the outset, leading to an emotional rupture which significantly altered the course of Nietzsche's philosophy. ]
In reading the lives and writing of the men and women of the Victorian period, I think we have been too ready to divine that society into those Victorians whose idea of love carries the purity of its idealism to an abstract and impossible extreme, and those "Other Victorians" who simply reduce love to forbidden sex. The first group appear as great believers in the most metaphysically-charged versions of love, the second as the failed idealists-becomeskeptics, who leave the marriage bed for adultery or the brothel. To the observer of this century, the first are simply too complete in their demands upon love; the second group, being perhaps too cynical for love, is hardly less "uptight" for all that. Such a polarization on the question of love seems to be part of Victorian reality. It helps explain why the same novel can contain a Becky Sharp and an Amelia Sedley, why the same period can accommodate The Secret Life and The Sonnetsfrom the...
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SOURCE: "Woman and Modernity: The [Life]Styles of Lou Andreas-Salomé," in Modernity and the Text: Revisions of German Modernism, edited by Andreas Huyssen and David Bathrick, Columbia University Press, 1989, pp. 183-99.
[In the following essay, Martin discusses Andreas-Salomé's polemical engagement with Freud on the issues of narcissism and gender difference, noting her resistance to the rigid categories of orthodox psychoanalysis.]
Alice Jardine begins her study of the "Configurations of Woman and Modernity," or Gynesis, by staging an encounter between American feminism and contemporary French thought. Cognizant of the inevitable risks of homogenizing both actors in her standoff, Jardine outlines the tension between the two in terms that have an uncanny familiarity—in terms of a conflict between feminism, "a concept inherited from the humanist and rationalist eighteenth century about a group of human beings in history whose identity is defined by that history's representation of sexual decidability, and contemporary French thought which has put every term of that definition into question." It is, of course, a profound reduction to imagine that feminist theory and politics are so neatly caught between a political feminism that seems to assume and hence reproduce the very representations of difference it wants to subvert, and a theoretical modernity that has itself been accused of...
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Binion, Rudolph. Frau Lou: Nietzsche's Wayward Disciple. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1968, 587 p.
Martin, Biddy. Woman and Modernity: The (Life)Styles of Lou Andreas-Salomé. Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991, 250 p.
Critical biography with a feminist orientation.
Sorell, Walter. "Lou Andreas-Salomé: Mind and Body." In his Three Women: Lives of Sex and Genius, pp. 131-213. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1975.
Offers a portrait of Andreas-Salomé as the mesmerizing and seductive muse of Nietzsche, Rilke, and Freud.
Livingstone, Angela. Lou Andreas-Salomé. London: Gordon Fraser Gallery, 1984, 255 p.
Biographical and critical study.
Matarasso, Michel. "Anthropoanalysis and the Biographical Approach: Lou Andreas-Salomé." Diogenes, No. 139 (Fall 1987): 127-166.
Analyzes the complex public persona of Andreas-Salomé, whose life "incarnates for many the image of modern woman."
Pfeiffer, Ernst, ed. Sigmund Freud and Lou Andreas-Salomé: Letters. Translated by William and Elaine Robson-Scott. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972, 244 p.
Correspondence between Andreas-Salomé and Sigmund Freud...
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