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Pfeiffer, E. (1972). Introduction to Sigmund Freud and Lou Andreas-Salomé: Letters. The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 89:1-6.

(1972). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 89:1-6

Introduction to Sigmund Freud and Lou Andreas-Salomé: Letters Book Information Previous Up Next

Ernst Pfeiffer

Lou Andreas-Salomé was born in St. Petersburg on 12 February 1861, the sixth and last child and only daughter of a Russian general of Huguenot and Baltic-German origin. On her mother's side she had North German and, further back, Danish blood. ‘German was definitely the first language’ in Louise von Salomé's parental home, as she herself stated, with French coming second, and then Russian, ‘which was at that time mainly confined to the common people’. When she was nineteen, prepared by her tutor, Hendrik Gillot, she went to Zurich University to study philosophy and the history of religion. With this she made her entry into the intellectual world of Western Europe.

After a year's study, which was terminated owing to an illness, and after important events, Lou A.-S. lived for twenty year—from 1883 to 1903—in Berlin, and from then until her death on 5 February 1937—i.e., for nearly half her life—in Göttingen. From both Berlin and Göttingen she travelled to various European countries, and ‘at least every eighteen months’ she visited her relatives in St. Petersburg—for the last time in 1911.

At three different periods and in the shadow or light of three great names she played her part in the intellectual history of her time. The names are those of Nietzsche, Rilke and Freud, men, that is, who were creative on very different intellectual levels, to each of whom, moreover, she stood in a particular personal relationship, and whose dates of birth were widely spaced around her own (1844 Nietzsche, 1856 Freud, 1875 Rilke).

After her first novel, Im Kampf um Gott (In the Struggle for God), 1885, she became well known as a critic: in her book on Ibsen's women characters, Ibsens Frauengestalten, 1892, she treats them as if they were living beings; and she turned to account her encounter with Nietzsche in the spring and summer of 1882 in the objective presentation of his personality, development and ‘system’ in her book Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken (Friedrich Nietzsche in his Works, 1894). This book earned her the bitter animosity of Nietzsche's sister, who for purely personal reasons tried to represent Lou A.-S.'s picture of Nietzsche as false. Lou A.-S. herself never replied to these attacks. The essay by the Swiss writer C. A.

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