LOOKING BACK by Lou Andreas-Salome

LOOKING BACK

Memoirs

KIRKUS REVIEW

 First published in Germany in 1951, these memoirs and meditations on love, religion, and art by Russian-born writer and psychoanalyst Andreas-SalomÇ (1861-1937) offer a curious perspective on the lives, works, and times of Nietzsche, Paul RÇe, Rilke, Rodin, Freud, Tolstoy, Wagner, and the other friends, lovers, and European intellectual elite with whom she spent most of her life. Starting with a meditation on God and the loss of wholeness that comes with maturity, these ``uncontrollable memories,'' range over Andreas-SalomÇ's travels in Italy, Germany, France, Russia, her life in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, the human encounters and varieties of love that overcame her sense of isolation, and her studies with Freud, and conclude with a description of her 45-year unconsummated marriage to Carl Andreas, professor Persian, illustrating, she says, that ``what is truly essential remains unsaid.'' Reticent by nature, oblique in style, combining both the mystical and the analytic, Andreas-SalomÇ nonetheless conveys the elusive charm, warmth, spirit that inspired in others so much love and poetry''flight,'' as one admirer calls itand perhaps misery as well, certainly for those lovers that included Nietzsche and Rilke, who raised suffering as well as life to an art. She wrote books about both of them, as well as Freud, whom she admired for the way his rational approach led to the discovery of the irrational. In spite of an elaborate scholarly apparatus (two afterwords, extensive notes, a bibliography, and an appendix of poems), there is so little biographical information about Andreas-SalomÇ that it's hard to follow her lifealthough minor characters are identified in detail. Even so, these memoirs have the considerable fascination of the overheard conversation of strangers. (Sixteen pages of photographsnot seen.)

Pub Date: May 24th, 1991
ISBN: 1-55778-260-1
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1991