Terry Eagleton reviews a new book on the Wittgenstein family. They were brilliant, rich, and absolutely brimming with mental disorders and argument.
In Australian we generally expect renting neighbours to be more noisy and troublesome that owner-occupiers. This clearly did not apply in Austria, at least when it came to this family.
Is it OK to find this section blackly funny (especially the part about Hans' first word)?:
The sons of the household had a distressing habit of doing away with them selves. Handsome, intelligent, homosexual Rudolf strolled into a Berlin bar, dissolved potassium cyanide into his glass of milk and died in agony on the spot. Two years earlier, Hans Karl had disappeared without trace and is thought to have killed himself at sea. He was a shy, ungainly, possibly autistic child with a prodigious gift for maths and music, whose first spoken word was "Oedipus". He, too, was thought to be gay. Kurt seems to have shot himself "without visible reason" while serving as a soldier in the first world war. The philosopher Ludwig claims to have begun thinking about suicide when he was 10 or 11.
Paul, a classmate of Adolf Hitler, became an outstanding concert pianist. Unusually for male members of the family, he was robustly heterosexual. The Wittgenstein ménage was more like a conservatoire than a family home: Brahms, Mahler and Richard Strauss dropped in regularly, while Ravel wrote his "Concerto for the Left Hand" specially for Paul, who had lost an arm in the first world war. Paul thought his brother Ludwig's philosophy was "trash", while Ludwig took a dim view of Paul's musical abilities. The Winter Palace resounded with constant yelling and vicious squabbling.