Monday, May 09, 2016

Nietzsche and his mum

From a review of new book about Nietzsche (and the reviewer, incidentally, in other parts of the review, is no anti-Nietzsche critic):
In fact, Nietzsche spent a good deal of his early years composing just such books. He completed his first memoir when he was just 13, and wrote another five over the next decade. They weren’t written to record his academic achievements (negligible), much less his prowess on field or track (non-existent), but, rather, according to Blue, as a ‘mirror’ in which, abstracted from history and environment, his ‘latent self’ would come into focus. ‘Autobiography’ was what Nietzsche wrote ‘in order to see who he was’.

On the evidence adduced here, what he was was a mummy’s boy. As late as her son’s undergraduate days, Franziska Nietzsche was still lecturing him on what coat and trousers to wear in the rain. And whenever a more metaphysical storm broke, mum was always Nietzsche’s first port of call. Even when he was called away from his studies for military service, he was granted a dispensation that posted him in his hometown — and allowed him not only to live at home with Mum, but to lunch and dine with her every day of the week. Blue, who seems to have read everything ever published on Nietzsche (and translated much new material hitherto available only in the German), doesn’t mention Joachim Köhler’s Zarathustra’s Secret: The Interior Life of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nonetheless, he does an awful lot to endorse Köhler’s suggestion that Nietzsche was a repressed homosexual.
Well, he was at the very least, rather eccentric from an early age.

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